The fact that you and Valerie agree in what I must strongly DISAGREE is exactly the point. You have published, in a book, something that is counter-intuitive.
If you overlay the symbol on the hand it DOES NOT MATCH. No matter what you do, the THUMB is on the right not on the left.
I must respectfully disagree with you, Adam, and agree with Stefan and Mr. Parkhurst.
I follow the orientation of the hand first. Is it toward me or away from me.
If it is away from me, then the thumb MUST be on the actual hand as the photo is, but not as the drawing. If it looks awkward, I would put the hand directly over the face so that it would lay on top of it, which is the whole point of the clown face, it lays on top of
the face, not to one side or the other. Then one can clearly see which hand it is, that the orientation is wrong.
Quoting your published notebook is EXACTLY the point. I disagree to the point that I would edit that textbook marking it wrong if it came across my publishing house in sign writing to publish. I did it in Brazil any number of times until they got the point. Don't make a sign identical with its mirror image, it simply ISN'T.
The fact that I rotate this same hand around and it now is exactly the same glyph when pointed in the opposite direction is just plain wrong. It is not a disagreement, it makes no logical sense, the grasp is happening in the opposite direction. You have rotated the hand, it cannot grasp left and right the same way. I have two hands, they are mirror images of each other. A grasp with one away must be the same glyph as the other pointed toward
I go for awkward writing and consistency every time. You showed that with "crumble". The hands are up there, and the thumbs are on the outside. You admit it there, so your argument is inconsistent.
You can write it in a textbook any way you want to, that does not make it any less WRONG. I cannot teach this, I cannot bend my mind around it. It does not make intuitive sense. Two orientations, no matter WHAT fingers are involved cannot be the same glyph.
I will continue to teach, and point out that the software is wrong. It is software, and it NEEDS to be fixed.
You are working with educators, and I think that the educators who are NOT just "shrug and make it go away" are on the better side. When they work with Deaf students in classrooms and get the same questions every day, I think the educators know more than the
If I were in your classroom, Adam, I would contradict you at every "turn" as it is not logical and I cannot bring myself to write what is simply wrong. I would strongly disagree, and Valerie knows it. I don't buy the "grasp" logic as I'd rather write the sign on the opposite side.
If the sign for Clown, Cockroach and Bug are compared, it is clear that COCKROACH (written by me) shows the right hand on the left side of the body, with the correct orientation, it is still the right hand, rotated 45 degrees with the left hand rotated 45 degrees and the hands crossed. BUG is the right hand at the halfway point so that the thumb presses the nose (written by VALERIE using her own textbook notes to move the hand until the features line up) so your argument simply does not hold water.
When the inventor of the system has to put the right hand on the left side of the body so that a
simple orientation rule does not get violated, I think that the orientation we have proposed is the better one. She makes sure that the thumb STAYS on the right place, sticking out so it should stay there.
--- On Mon, 9/12/11, Stefan Wöhrmann <[log in to unmask]>
From: Stefan Wöhrmann <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: AW: NEW: Clown correction
To: [log in to unmask]
Date: Monday, September 12, 2011, 2:08 PM
Hi Charles, Valerie, Adam
well – this has
been a v e r y intense discussion in the
past. From time to time it became an emotional discussion.
Now looking at your
wonderful book about hand shapes and their matching symbols, I felt pretty much
disappointed and confused to find some symbols with this kind of
interpretation, violating my intuitive understanding of the
I do not agree with your
idea of how the hand looks like. I do not follow your point of view.
Why ? Well Charles
explained the point of view I understand best. And if you would look at the
good old “Lessons in SignWriting” second edition page 36 you will
understand – that at least some of us “old scribes”
prefer the thumb to be seen where it belongs ... right thumb right side
of the symbol.
The whole confusion is
connected to the fact that originally there have been more but three basic
orientations. I discussed it several times and have had a hard time to explain
my doubts and ideas about different interpretations.
This discussion came up
several times in the past. It is a pity that people feel frustrated to accept
the use of symbols if it does not go along with their understanding.
But I can understand the feeling of irritation. Personally I follow
Valeries advice to write my documents the way I think it feels best to my
understanding. And of course – I do no teach these symbols in question
the way they are shown in this list because my brain refuses to accept the
logic you try to explain. I simply do not see, what you would like me to
see. I can’t – no matter how intense I try.
I agree that sometimes
the fingers or the thumb on the right side touching the nose or the ear
are somehow funny – but at least this kind of representation does
not hurt the general concept: write what you see.
Personally I would not
write the sign for clown with this “left hand” – smile
(I understand that you – Adam and Valerie can see this hand
as a “right hand” – but I cannot.
Same problem with some
other symbols for hand shapes ;-( and this “direction
of fingers is important”- idea – I do not agree with that either.
When I started to
“learn” the meaning of SW-symbols 11 years ago, I followed the
Parkhurst interpretation. It made absolute sense to me and everything seemed to
So now we can restart to
understand that there are at least two different “schools” to use
some symbols differently. It might be worth to just have a table showing a
given symbol from the two points of view – this would not blame anybody
but give a chance to accept what is going on – We do not follow the same
way of thinking.
List: Read and Write Sign Languages [mailto:[log in to unmask]] Im Auftrag von Adam Frost
Gesendet: Montag, 12. September
An: [log in to unmask]
Betreff: Re: NEW: Clown correction
I'm assuming the sign you are referring to is:
While I personally don't do it with this down movement, we aren't
talking about that at the moment. ;-)
Technically speaking, the hand symbol is the correct one for what the
symbol was intended to mean. If you look at the book that Val and I just wrote,
the image of my hand and the symbol match.
I know that the thumb seems to be on the wrong side; so do the
fingers. There is a reason for that. This isn't official because I need to test
it, but from personal observation I have found that when a handshape has the
thumb interacting with the other fingers (ie as if it can hold a physical
object), the symbol construction points the fingers to the center of the body
and is static and does not rotate like most of the other symbols. So this hand
symbol falls in that category.
Now, my understanding is that there are some who say that these hand
symbols should rotate just like the other symbols. That means this writing of
clown should be:
The problem is that since the hand is on the left side of the face,
many readers feel that is for the left hand as opposed to the right hand. That
is the reason all those symbols were made static and not rotate like the rest.
I hope this helps clarify why the hand symbol used is actually not
On Sep 12, 2011, at 9:00 AM, Charles Butler wrote:
Please look at "CLOWN" on the ASL Sign
The fingers point to the right and the hand is
white, therefore it is the left hand, yet the arrows indicate the right hand.
if you turn it at a slight angle then the thumb is clearly on the wrong side,
pointing up the axle on the left side of the square. This, to me, is the
If I were to see this sign in an ASL SW exam I would
mark it wrong. This is not a matter of "variant" this is simply
If I cannot mark a test unambiguously then there is
something wrong. The hand is not "pinching the nose" from the side
it is "facing the nose".
As I can't edit it, I can't fix it.