SignWriting List
September 3, 2012

Hello Jessica -
Yes, Steve is right…There are literally thousands of pages of written sign language literature in SignWriting on the web, all accessible in computer data formats. SignPuddle software provides a web-platform for written SignWriting literature, and when you go to the Literature Puddles of different countries you will find so many documents it is overwhelming to choose which ones to use…

SignPuddle Online

Try the Bible Puddle:

ASL Bible Puddle
(has thousands of pages…the four Gospels alone are over 2000 book pages)

And there are other software programs that write SignWriting literature too, such as the new DELEGS software from Germany, and the future SignWriter Studio from Honduras.

We are not experts on the other systems and I cannot imagine finding a parallel corpus of work, since the other systems were not designed to write sign language literature the way SignWriting has been.

SignWriting provides written literature in the sign languages of the world and that is our focus…and it is being read on a daily basis by signers, including children…Researchers use SignWriting too, and more databases are now being built using SignWriting, such as the new SignTyp project from the University of Connecticut, but it is SignWriting literature with full sentences and punctuation, and rich facial expressions, which is unique in this way…

For example …a new exciting project is starting …the new test project of the future ASL Wikipedia:

ASL Wikipedia Project on Wikimedia Labs

Go to the opening page of the ASL Wikipedia (link above). This first ASL paragraph is a written translation of the English paragraph next to it…translated into ASL by Adam Frost:

Or, go to the first ASL article written in the new test ASL Wikipedia project:

Charles Michel de l'Épée in ASL

The first paragraph attached in ASL is a translation of the first paragraph in the English Wikipedia for the same article:

Charles Michel de l'Épée in English

Regarding the Bible translations, the New Testament will be completely translated in the next two years - right now the complete Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Romans, Peter1,2, Philippians, are complete, and now Ephesians is being completed…Look at the first page of Ephesians:


See the English translation it is based on at the bottom of the SignPuddle page…it gives you a real "interpreter's translation" of the New Living Translation English text…

So we can provide you with thousands of pages of sentences and translations…the only problem is that we do not know HamNoSys and Stokoe. And the systems are not created for the same purpose so it is hard to compare them - Maybe you can choose something already written in SignWriting and then ask someone who knows the other systems to write it for you -

Ask questions here on the List - we are always here for you - and interested in your project - please keep us informed -

Val ;-)


On Sep 3, 2012, at 1:25 PM, Steve Slevinski wrote:

Hi Jessica Hutchinson,

I do not know of any parallel corpus for different notations.

There is a wealth of data available for SignWriting.

You may be interested in the ASL Gospel site (  It has ASL translations for all 4 Gospels of the Bible (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John).  You can find the data behind this text in the ASL Bible in SignPuddle:

Go to the export page and click the download link.  You will get a XML file that contains all of the data that you need.

The sign data will be in the format called Formal SignWriting (FSW).  This format is documented in the Modern SignWriting specification, section 9.  You can download the document or view it online.

View online:

SignWriting is different than HamNoSys and Stokoe because SignWriting is 2-dimensional.  The character encoding model for SignWriting is based on mathematics.  The 2-dimensional nature of SignWriting has unique challenges, such as the built-in variability of the script: 

The variability of SignWriting necessitates a searching scheme that is not based on exact string matches, but on approximate matching with regular expressions.

The open source project (the SignWriting Image Server) can be found on Github.  It is an implementation of the Modern SignWriting specification.



On Sep 3, 2012, at 1:08 PM, Valerie Sutton wrote:

SignWriting List
September 3, 2012

Hello Jessica and everyone -

Welcome to the SignWriting List, Jessica. And congratulations on your project…I enjoyed visiting your research web site:

Machine Translation of SASL

I am preparing an answer for you now, and will post it in a few hours - 

While you are waiting, have you visited our Linguistics Forum?

SignWriting Linguistics Forum

Did you see the old research done years ago comparing the three systems? Scroll down to find those articles…number 14 and 15 on that page for example...

Writing the Same Signs in Different Notation Systems

it goes on for many pages on the web so keep clicking on Next Page icon…

Joe Martin, who wrote the comparison between the Stokoe and SignWriting systems, is here on this List…Joe did an excellent job on the comparison:

Comparing Stokoe and SignWriting

More soon from me - and i hope others will answer too -

Val ;-)


On Sep 3, 2012, at 11:37 AM, Jessica Hutchinson wrote:

Hi everyone

My name is Jessica Hutchinson. I am a Computer Science/Linguistics postgraduate student at Rhodes University, South Africa, doing a research project in machine translation of sign languages. My research involves looking at the various notations used to represent sign languages and making a comparison in terms of how effectively each of them can be parsed by a computer. The results of my research I hope will further improve the area of Sign-To-Text translation.

I would like to build a couple of small systems that do statistical translation from sign notation to English text, for each of the main notations (starting with Sign Writing, HamNoSys and Stokoe). To do this, however, I need quite a bit of data, and I have had trouble finding any kind of parallel corpus for these notations. I am hoping to do the translation on a sentence-by-sentence basis, so the kind of data I am looking for would be sentences in a sign language matched to sentences in English. I'm expecting ASL to be most accessible, and for comparison's sake would prefer each notation in the same language, but anything will be useful.

Furthermore, data would need to be in some kind of format that a computer would be able to process - images in a pdf file aren't going to work so well!

If anyone can help me to find that data that I need, I would greatly appreciate it.


Jessica Hutchinson
Research website:


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