Excellent answer, it will be a challenge for my work with Ethiopian Sign Language as their abjad is so different than the Roman alphabet.


From: Valerie Sutton <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Sat, December 11, 2010 7:38:27 PM
Subject: Re: AW: AW: Creating a sign language ordered dictionary

SignWriting List
December 11, 2010

Hello Charles and Stefan -

Great discussion! ;-)

Before I go back to respond to all that has been said (tomorrow when I am back online), I want to explain to others who are reading our messages, what we are talking about...

SignWriting can be sorted in dictionaries and lists "by Sign Symbols"...Sorting dictionaries or vocabulary lists by Sign-Symbols is done with two processes:

1. First, the "SignSpelling Sequence" must be established. It is "the order of symbols within EACH sign...like spellings for words in spoken languages - the "spelling order" of symbols has to be understood by the computer, so the computer can "sort" the dictionary by Sign-Symbols...

To establish the "SignSpelling Sequence" for each sign in SignPuddle, we ask the writers of the signs to click on the SignSpelling button to the right of the signs they have written (must be logged-in to do this). The writer tells the computer what symbol in the sign should come first, and what symbol should come second etc, when finding signs in a list...

2. Second, once the sign has its SignSpelling established, then, when someone searches for a list of signs in SignPuddle, using the Symbol Frequency or Search by Symbol or Search by Signs searching methods, all of the signs that have a SignSpelling Sequence established in the dictionary will be listed sorted by the alphabetical order of SignWriting , called the Sign-Symbol-Sequence...

3. If a sign does NOT have a SignSpelling entered in the dictionary, and there are lots of them, then SignPuddle places them in the list "as best as it can based on a semi-good sequencing that is automated"...but so far SignPuddle really needs the writers to put in the SignSpelling Sequence they feel is best manually, because the automated choices are not as good as they should be -

I am hoping in time that we can improve the automated listings without the manual work, but we are not there yet, because there are still other theories as to which SignSpelling Sequence is right and I am not sure myself - I think all of our theories need to be tested on lots of people - can they find signs quickly in a thick dictionary sorted by Sign-Symbols? that kind of research needs to be done with lots of skilled signwriters to see who can find signs in a thick dictionary the fastest, based on different sorting methods -

So Charles, I am working on updating SignBank, a dictionary publishing program for SignWriting, to use the ISWA 2010, and SignPuddle will be using the ISWA 2010 in about a month or so, and when all the programs are using the ISWA 2010, you will be able to find a list of vocabulary in SignPuddle, export the list to SignBank, and print dictionaries sorted by Sign-Symbol-Sequence from SignBank. Someday SignPuddle will also have the print formats built in, but not yet ;-)

You can see a few old examples of these dictionaries produced by SignBank years ago on this web page:


Numbers 2, 3 and 5 are all PDFs that were made from a combination of SignPuddle and SignBank - SignBank is simply a database program that accepts the signs from SignPuddle into different print formats for printing dictionaries both directions -

I will read your messages more carefully tomorrow morning and look forward to it - I am sorry I must run right now ;-)

Talk to you tomorrow -

Val ;-)


On Dec 11, 2010, at 4:05 PM, Charles Butler wrote:

> I understand your "search by word" for practical reasons, I guess what I am looking to would be a future in which signed language dictionaries are just that, signed language dictionaries, not bilingual dictionaries in a spoken language with signs attached to them.
> You wouldn't teach English grammar in French, nor French grammar in English unless you intended that a person never be fluent in English alone or French alone. 
> So in teaching ASL, or LIBRAS, or Ethiopian Sign Language, I'm trying to truly think in a signed language, in projection, so if I want to find a sign, I want to look it up by handshape because I may see someone using the sign and I have no idea, even in context, what it may mean.
> I got so frustrated when I was taking ASL at Gallaudet University and the question was asked "how many signs can you think of which use the "little finger" handshape. 
> The lists of signs included, spaghetti, innocent, idea, draw, etc, but every one of the lists was in English words, in what I thought was a "total immersion" sign language class.
> I was the only one taking notes in sign language, so if I saw a sign I didn't know, I tried not to ask in English, but in sign, and expected a signed answer, not an English language answer, but the teacher, who was native Deaf, kept on writing down English words, not what I wanted at all.
> Charles
> From: Stefan Wöhrmann <[log in to unmask]>
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Sent: Sat, December 11, 2010 6:54:36 PM
> Subject: AW: AW: Creating a sign language ordered dictionary
> Hi Charles,

> thanks for your explanation.

> Well for practical reasons I am happy to look up a sign from „searching by word“.
> Sometimes I feel lucky to look for signs by symbol – especially if I get a message in ASL and have to look for the meaning of a sign.
> I see that you would love to have a dictionary in sign order. – This is interesting.

> I do not know what categories would be first, second third – if I would go to sort all the signs.

> Thanks for your answer.

> Stefan

> Von: SignWriting List: Read and Write Sign Languages [mailto:[log in to unmask]] Im Auftrag vonCharles Butler
> Gesendet: Sonntag, 12. Dezember 2010 00:14
> An: [log in to unmask]
> Betreff: Re: AW: Creating a sign language ordered dictionary

> Okay, when Valerie first came out with Sign Writing for Everyday Use, we had an order to the signs within each group, following in a logical order from straight to bent to curled.  With the growth of the system, handshapes have been added without a logical progression so that missing ones may be inferred but there is no order to them. 

> For a complete dictionary, in sign order, then pushing "Sign Frequency" will print them by group and in order of the numbers of the codes, but that coding is not consistent across the board.

> When I teach the system, I teach it in an order, Group 1, then Group 2, then Group 3, then Group 4, but i also attempt to put the actual handshapes in a logical order, and at the moment that varies from sign language to sign language depending on which handshapes are actually used in the language.

> I published, some time ago, a proposed system to put

> 1) handshape
> 2) orientation starting from facing the reader, half left or right, back of hand, face up, forward half left or right, face down
> 3) rotation from vertical rotating clockwise.
> 4) --- second handshape would fit here if more than one hand is in the sign, orientation, rotation
> 4A - I put location here, Valerie puts it at the end, from her experiments with Deaf looking up signs.
> 5) --- contact (touch, strike, brush, rub)
> 6) --- finger movement
> 7) --- vertical movement
> 8) --- horizontal movement
> 9) --- curved vertical movement
> 10) --- curved horizontal movement
> 11) --- circles
> 12) --- speed
> 13) --- facial expressions

> So, for example, the following are in Sign-Symbol-Sequence Order for me.  All two handed signs come after all one handed signs for the same orientation.

>  = Group 1, primary orientation, no movement

>  = Group 1, primary orientation, movement vertical,

>  = Group 1, primary orientation, first hand, group one, primary orientation second hand, movement horizontal, facial involvement (ALL TWO HANDED SIGNS COME AFTER ONE HANDED SIGNS)

>  = Group 1, primary orientation, first hand, group 5, back of hand, second hand, movement horizontal (GROUP 5 comes after GROUP 1)

>  = Group 1, second orientation, 45 counter clockwise, circular motion, facial involvement

>  - Group 1, first hand, second orientation, 45 counter clockwise, Group 1, crooked handshape, finger movement, finger movement.  Is this before the one above from the finger movement?


>  = Group 5, first hand, forward, half, 45 counter clockwise, Group 5, second hand, forward, half, 45 clockwise, held in between, forward twice

>  Group 5, side forward, half, 45 counter clockwise, Group 5 side forward, half, 45 clockwise, held in between, twice forward twice, slow

> The Sign Symbol Sequence may order the signs if each of them has been ordered, but I have not sufficiently experimented to see if one enters signs and then orders them by one's chosen order whether the "symbol frequency" will follow that order. 

> From: Stefan Wöhrmann <[log in to unmask]>
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Sent: Sat, December 11, 2010 12:08:45 PM
> Subject: AW: Creating a sign language ordered dictionary
> Hi Charles,

> can you explain? I do not understand.

> Stefan ;-)

> Von: SignWriting List: Read and Write Sign Languages [mailto:[log in to unmask]] Im Auftrag vonCharles Butler
> Gesendet: Samstag, 11. Dezember 2010 14:29
> An: [log in to unmask]
> Betreff: Re: Creating a sign language ordered dictionary

> But can you print a dictionary from Sign Puddle in one's chosen order without constructing it yourself? I order my dictionary down to the individual handshape and movement, and that is all by hand.

> Charles

> From: Stefan Wöhrmann <[log in to unmask]>
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Sent: Sat, December 11, 2010 2:37:24 AM
> Subject: AW: I need your help: DOS Box and SignWriter 4.4
> Hi Meryeme,

> I am no software expert whatsoever and it took me a long time to understand the tricks how to install the DOS-Box proberly to work together with the SW 4.4  Program (except for printing) . I wrote a short tutorial –

> http://www.gebaerdenschrift.de/documents/dos_winxp/dos_box_installation.htm

> Perhaps this can support you in your efforts?

> In addition to that. It takes some time to become an expert with this DOS – SignWriter 4.4  Program  - you have to download and install the dictionary ...

> As Valerie mentioned before – the SignPuddle software allows an easy way to create entries, to create documents, to send emails written in SignWriting, to look up terms word – to sign order and to look up signs – symbol –to sign order, you can search for frequencies (what are the most often used symbols) ....

> Good luck

> Stefan

> Von: SignWriting List : Read and Write Sign Languages [mailto:[log in to unmask]] Im Auftrag vonMeryeme Ayache
> Gesendet: Freitag, 10. Dezember 2010 22:04
> An: [log in to unmask]
> Betreff: Re: I need your help

> hey Valerie and Stefan :-)
>    I hope that you all are doing well. I installed the DOSbox but I have problem in some DOS commands like 'md \sw' in order to create f directory but I will keep trying I think that is because I am using window 7 but I am not sure. and by the way I used the ASL SignPuddle Dictionary and I really like but I don't wanna use it in my project because I need to enter the sign writing manually because I have to verify first if the entered character belong to the list of sign-writing language or not and that is what we call it (the lexical analyzer :-) and it is the first step to realize a compiler I will let you updated of my researches
> --
> Meryeme Ayache.
> Elève ingénieur ( 2ème année )
> Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Informatique et d'Analyse des Systèmes ( Rabat ).