SignWriting List
February 24, 2012

Hello SignWriting List, Honza, Ingvild, Kimberley -

Thank you for the question and the responses… I realize that you may be using the General Arrowhead differently than the way I teach it…and all is ok. Part of the reason there has been confusion is that our older textbooks did not explain this well, in fact I believe the old textbook said "if they contact, it is General, and that is true, but it is not the whole story… so you can put the blame on my old textbooks ;-)

I have wanted to explain this better for a long time…It is a subject I had been planning to bring up here on the List, so thank you for the question Honza -

You see, the General Arrowhead means "Overlapping Paths". I always imagine Marcel Marceau, the famous classic mime artist, with his hands in black and white paint, painting imaginary paths of movement in space…

So here is how I teach it:

The Right, Left and General Arrowheads are representing "movement paths".

Imagine your right hand has black paint on it. Your left hand has white paint on it. There is a black path, and a white path showing movement in space.

Now imagine two hands moving down, side by side. They paint two separate paths in space…a black path and a white path.

But now imagine the two hands with one above the other one, but NOT contacting…just simply one above the other. When the two hands start to move down together, the one above paints on top of the path of the one on the bottom…the two paths blend…and when they blend…you can no longer see black or white - it becomes grey… and so the GREY path is the General Arrowhead…

They could also be contacting…but the black and white paths have to overlap, to become GREY. It does not require contact.

This is taught in the textbook "SignWriting Basics" from 2009, which is free for download on the web. Go to:

SignWriting Lessons Online

and download number 1 on that web page - called SignWriting Basics.

Here is the excerpt from that book, on page 34 in the book (number page in the book)… the PDF page is page 39 -