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SignWriting List
March 1, 2011

Hello SW List!

Note: Right now, we are using SignPuddle 1.5, which uses the ISWA 2008. In a few weeks, we will be using SignPuddle 1.6, which uses the ISWA 2010. This write-up below discusses the ISWA 2010, but the lessons apply to the ISWA 2008 too…please do not worry about that difference…just follow the lessons and you will be able to construct hand symbols…

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HOW TO CONSTRUCT NEW HAND SYMBOLS
Using The International SignWriting Alphabet (ISWA)
by Valerie Sutton, March 1st, 2011

There are 261 officially-constructed hand symbols in the ISWA 2010, but there are actually hundreds of other shapes and positions of the hand that are not included in the official 261. The human hand has many variations and possible combinations. Fingers can be bent in incrementally-different degrees of bending. A finger can be contacted by another finger, in incrementally-different degrees of contact-placement, and these minute differences can be combined with other fingers to create hundreds more hand symbols. And some of these minute differences of finger placement and bending hold linguistically-important information for some sign languages, but in other sign languages, the same position can be meaningless.

Therefore, the ISWA is VERY flexible. It includes 261 pre-constructed hand symbols, that are the most commonly-used in documents around the world, based on documents and dictionaries in SignPuddle, as of January 2010. Before constructing a new hand symbol, search for and use the “pre-constructed” hand symbols if at all possible. If you cannot find the hand symbol you need, then follow these guidelines:


HOW TO CONSTRUCT NEW HAND SYMBOLS USING THE ISWA

1. FIND THE ROOTSHAPE

The Rootshape is the foundation of the hand symbol. Read the definitions of Rootshapes in the attached diagram: 




2. ATTACH THE ACTION FINGERS

The Action Fingers are like the branches of a tree:





The above diagrams are taken from the textbook: “SignWriting Hand Symbols”, which is available for download on: SignWriting Lessons: www.signwriting.org/lessons.

This LESSON continues next message…teaching how to find the pieces for construction in SignPuddle software...



Val ;-)

Valerie Sutton
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