When you say we may need a more relative layout strategy using polar coordinates, that reminds me of the days just before computers when we had powerful calculators.   I programmed a utility on my calculator for traversing, a surveying and civil engineering method of getting from point to point over land.  It uses bearings and distances, which is basically a polar method, using the last point of a leg as the first point of of the next leg.  The output of the program was the X,Y coordinates of each point.

Months ago I wrote to the list an idea about using shapes derived from traversing.   What I mean by that is that if you plot traverse paths for each sign in a large enough set of signs in a database, a set of paths, traverse shapes, may be determined.   These paths could become an alphabet of shapes, so that if you were to define a signwriting string utilizing these shapes, you would be fetching a predetermined path and applying the symbols of the sign to that path.   It would function similarly to how the Kanji alphabet is applied to Characters in Japanese language to guide how the Characters should be pronounced. 

Like your idea of face symbols as diacritics of the head circle,  perhaps we can define placement similarly to what is already used in word processing:  A system similar to sub-scripts and super-scripts.   In this method, imagine horizontal lines through a sign, each representing first the baseline then a series of super-script lines above it and a series of sub-script lines below it.  You'd also need to define "pre-script" and "post-script" as locations of placement for symbols before and after the first symbol. This is close to a Cartesian system but it's simplified to a predetermined set of locations that would build upon existing methods (and terminology) of word processing.  This could tend to cause signs to be more iconized and simplified, which is a natural progression of any written language.   Eventually, just how a box in Japanese is recognized for the word "sun," which was originally written (in Chinese) as a circle, simplified and iconized signs would come to be recognized with their associated concepts, rather than as a "picture" of how the sign is made.

Obviously, these two ideas can be combined so that you could have the shape alphabet defining placement of symbols ("characters" or "text") on the script locations.   Restricting to predefined script locations could allow a smaller set of shapes, which could make for a manageable alphabet.

Obviously, it's all theoretical, and I'm just hoping my perspective and ideas can help somehow


On 5/11/2011 8:58 AM, Stuart Thiessen wrote:
[log in to unmask]" type="cite">I think we will need to move to a more relative layout strategy. As I mention in the thesis, there is some natural organization of the symbols based on the layout of the body. There is also some natural relationships between symbols such that certain types of symbols only relate to other types of symbols. So, those relationships can also help us in finding ways to organize the symbol relationships in how the layout is encoded.  I think that there would be no specific need to mark the location of the first symbol in a sign box. It could be understood to be placed in the center of the sign box. Then everything else is positioned either relative to the previous symbol or relative to the body. There is more detail in the last two chapters that describe some of my preliminary conclusions. At the least, I think we should use polar coordinates rather than cartesian coordinates. 

I wrote a computer program to help me do some of the analysis. Due to timing constraints, I didn't tell the computer, "If they have the same location or if the rectangles representing the two symbols overlap, then calculate distances between symbols in a different way." My program just made the assumption that no "outside pixels" of the symbols overlapped or were superimposed upon each other. For a preliminary analysis, this covers most of the symbols, but I knew a more detailed analysis would need to cover superimposed or overlapping symbols. It's just a matter of recognizing the situation and planning different calculations.

Marking the superimposed symbols as -1 would certainly work. Or one could assume that no positioning information implies it is superimposed. In other writing systems, it is my understanding that ligatures (like æ) are actually handled as separate symbols in Unicode. I don't know if that would work for SignWriting. For example, for head circles, one option could be to have one head circle symbol + a series of face diacritics. The renderer could then superimpose the face diacritics onto a head circle symbol. Then if it runs out of room, it could add additional head circles and add the remaining face diacritics to those head circles. But that is not the approach that we are currently using. Our current approach of superimposing the various head circles also works, but that approach requires us to think about opacity in the definition of our symbols which is not usually used in most writing systems (to my knowledge).

At this point, we have some time to explore some different approaches. Hopefully, we will find one that will be well-accepted by the Unicode Consortium.

On Mon, May 9, 2011 at 1:16 PM, Bill Reese <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Great!  I'm glad they're working together on it.  I hope great things come out of the collaboration.

I know I brought this up before but I'm wondering, Stuart, if a concept of relative coordinate systems was discussed in your thesis?   I did a quick scan so I'm not sure if it was.  What I mean by "relative" is a coordinate system that's related to a previous symbol in a sign according to that sign's signspelling sequence.  

The coordinate for the first symbol would be in absolute coordinates according to the signbox, then the second symbol would relate to the first symbol according to a coordinate system using a point of the first symbol as the origin. 

Doing it that way may allow establishing matrices of symbol pairing in a sign.   I would imagine this to be similar to "kerning" and possibly define distances according to the pairs rotation of not only themselves but to each other.  Similar to what you were saying about establishing minimum distances.

About the overlap of symbols that you mention.  I was wondering if it couldn't also be solved by a matrix of symbol pairing so that a particular matrix value would indicate overlap - say, a value of -1.   On the other hand, do you think it would be possible to create totally different symbols that are overlaps of two symbols?  I ask this as that's what's done in other languages when there's an overlap.  For instance, "æ" which looks like "a" and "e" overlapped but is it's own symbol.  I would hazard a guess that separate symbols are only possible when there's only a few.


On 5/9/2011 1:06 PM, Valerie Sutton wrote:
SignWriting List
May 9, 2011

Hello Bill -
Just want you to know that we have a group of Unicode-knowledgeable people working together on our SignWriting proposals that will be presented to the Unicode-related meetings over a period of years, and Steve and Stuart are both in the group, along with others as well - so we are all working together...The proposals have been separated into proposing the encoding of the symbols, or characters, first, (of the International SignWriting Alphabet 2010) and then once the symbols have been encoded, we will present a second proposal related to layout and symbol placement issues - so that second area is where different theories will be discussed until we can come up with a final decision for a second proposal - so we are taking this one step at at a time...

An exciting time for all of us - smile - 

Val ;-)


On May 9, 2011, at 8:56 AM, Bill Reese wrote:


Wow, that was a lot of work!  I do have one question.  How would the most recent work in Unicode and, more particularly, what Steve Slevinski has written to the list affect the portion where you talk about what may be needed for successful Unicode acceptance?   From what it appears, it's well on it's way to acceptance with what Steve and Michael Everson have done.


On 5/8/2011 1:02 AM, Stuart Thiessen wrote:
Hello, all! I know it's been a long time, no see. I wanted to let you know that I have completed my MA thesis on SignWriting. For those of you interested in reading it, you can download a PDF from the University website. Just so you know, the PDF itself is about 22MB. 

If you have any questions about it, just let me know.