SignWriting List
June 2, 2011

This is not true everyone - The first sign language ever written in SignWriting was Danish Sign Language. The second sign language ever written were individual signs from a South Pacific Island. Then came ASL ... really...  I lived in Denmark when I developed SignWriting and the South Pacific Island research was taken from video during a research project at the University of Copenhagen - then I returned to my homeland in the US and contacted Deaf people in the SignWriting was not built on any knowledge of ASL - I did not know how to sign anything - we were writing movement from video or from watching people sign...then Deaf people got involved and starting writing their own language and when that happened, everything improved...

Val ;-)


On Jun 2, 2011, at 4:33 PM, Trevor Jenkins wrote:

I agree with everything Cherie writes with the exception of the very last lexeme. ASL? Why not BSL? Or PSL (forgive me I don't know the common indigenous abbreviation for Polish Sign Language)? While SignWriting may have first been used for ASL surely it is a script meant to write signed languages.

On Thu, Jun 2, 2011 at 9:56 PM, Cherie Wren <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
There is a huge difference between American Sign Language and Signed English.  It sounds to me as if you are suggesting that the example needs to be in Signed English... "a literal translation of signing."   As if, in order to understand written Chinese, we need to have an example of something written in English...

That is the beauty of SignWriting...  That example is a literal transcription (not translation) of how the poem is signed.  Using signwriting, I can sign a story in Polish sign Language, without understanding a bit of it, just like I can look at written French and say the words without understanding it.  Why does it need to be in English to introduce a script meant to write ASL?


From: George Veronis <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Thursday, June 2, 2011 11:12 AM
Subject: Wikipedia article

I very recently started on sign language just out of interest and curiosity.  In the process of learning I discovered that signwriting exists so I looked it up in Wikipedia.

I don't know who wrote the Wikipedia article about signwriting but I do have a suggested change.  Since that article may be the first one for people who are interested in learning about signwriting , I believe that it is essential that the first demonstration should be very clear and free of ambiguity or confusion.  Cherie Wren's version of Jack and Jill is not the way to introduce the topic.  The introduction should contain a very literal transliteration of signing.  That would give a person an idea of what it is about and how to go about it.  In Cherie's poem the second line, "to fetch a pail of water", doesn't contain the words: pail, fetch or water.  I spent quite a lot of time trying to figure out what was in that line and failed.  Cherie Wren eventually wrote to me explaining that it is a poetic version of the verse and not meant to be a transliteration of the original.  But my feeling is that many people would have given up by that time and simply ended up being confused about the effectiveness of signwriting.

Mind you, I have no objection to Cherie's version, but I think that it is something that can be accessed later, when the reader might be interested in more cultural issues.  What is needed in the introduction is something clearer and unambiguous.  By analogy I would say that it would be have been a mistake to have Robert Frost try to instruct first graders to read by reciting one of his poems.

George Veronis


Regards, Trevor.

<>< Re: deemed!