SignWriting List
February 13, 2013

Hi Stefan -
What do I think? Thanks for asking ;-) Actually I am not sure what I think - ha! This is not something I can just answer yes or no to…It would take me some time to study the old hand symbols from years ago, and our current ISWA 2010 to see what was and what is now…but no matter what, if your team makes the change, it changes the ISWA 2010 for several reasons…first the fingers in the new handshape are higher than the fingers in the current ISWA 2010 hand symbol…so just that alone would make it hard to replace one with the other in the middle of signs already written - you know how we place fingers very carefully, for example on the face, and if the fingers suddenly are taller or longer, then the replacement would be a problem and the signs would have to be re-written - so be careful that any changes you make are not different in size.

Also, there is more space between the two fingers in the new symbol, which is not really correct - The idea behind the original symbol is that the two fingers are close to each other like a bent U, but they do not look close to each other in the new symbol - although maybe you can improve that ;-)

I do not understand exactly what you are doing with Font Design - We have font development going on here too, related to the SVG we already have, and we are working with a form of TrueType to place the ISWA 2010 into TrueType - meanwhile - I think your work is wonderful with so many new software developments so it is all good - It is just a matter of knowing what the goal is…

Here is the way I look at it…

Think of the current ISWA 2010 as the "current alphabet"… A Font Design of A, B, C can have a slightly different look to it, but it cannot be so hard to read that you can no longer read the words…and the newly designed fonts have to have symbols that fit inside the spacing of the current words already written -

Regarding the idea of curved or bent…there is a slight difference in performance of the handshape, but it is such a slight difference that most people would not be able to actually physically perform the difference, but there is a feeling to it perhaps when reading it - I am not sure about that though - just a thought -

So I have to leave this to you - maybe you can show us more later and it will become clearer for all of us - I appreciate it very much that you asked us -

And keep us informed on the List about all you are doing -

Please send my best to your team -

Val ;-)


On Feb 13, 2013, at 3:40 PM, Stefan Wöhrmann <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Hi Charles, Valerie and sw-list members,
Perhaps this sign can explain better what is on my mind  - the two hands move inwards – startposition U-hand a little bit curved – in the endposition the two fingers are really bent as much as possible –
I know and I understand that the symbol with the bent square fingers has been accepted and is established in order to indicate this clearly.
Our Font- design team would love to write this instead with the curved lines as you can see on the left...
Would this be correct?  Is there inany way  a kind of violation of principles? Is this a matter of artwork?
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All best Stefan

Von: SignWriting List: Read and Write Sign Languages [mailto:SW-[log in to unmask]] Im Auftrag von Stefan Wöhrmann
Gesendet: Donnerstag, 14. Februar 2013 00:24
An: [log in to unmask]
Betreff: AW: discussion: design of bent fingers
Hi Charles, Valerie...
please let me explain again – I am not discussing different signs.  I am not discussing that it is possible to bent the fingers just a little bit or extremely. I would like to discuss
the possibility to write the  bent index as a bent sqare finger or as a half –circle curve.  See the sign below. Looking at the left or right hand there should not be any difference – well perhaps except for the “feeling” – smile
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If you bent your fingers – you can write this as bent square fingers.   (We find this for handshapes with one, two or three fingers) We do not find this for 4 or 5 fingers –
Well the fingers bent the same way but the design of that given handshape shows smooth lines instead of “bent square fingers”
Is this because of a design – problem with old software or is there an idea behind this concept.
I fully agree with your last statement   “  "beautiful" artwork must make sure that you don't lose articulation. “   That is the reason that I ask for your opinion smile!
Hi Valerie – what do you think ?
All best

Von: SignWriting List: Read and Write Sign Languages [mailto:SW-[log in to unmask]] Im Auftrag von Charles Butler
Gesendet: Mittwoch, 13. Februar 2013 23:12
An: [log in to unmask]
Betreff: Re: discussion: design of bent fingers
For me there is an essential difference between a bent finger and a smoothed finger when you miss the point that two joints are bent, like the difference between "depend" where the joints smoothly go into a curve, and "friend" where they clearly link as bent square fingers. (McDonald's two CURVES) or (etc.) and something with clearly the first and second joints clearly squared. 

This is the sign for Mexican from a sarape (a blanket used as a wrap). It would not be correct to make the sign without an actual hooked finger as a "minimal pair", so, for me, "beautiful" artwork must make sure that you don't lose articulation. 

Charles Butler
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Clear writing moves business forward.

--- On Wed, 2/13/13, Stefan Wöhrmann <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

From: Stefan Wöhrmann <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: discussion: design of bent fingers
To: [log in to unmask]
Date: Wednesday, February 13, 2013, 4:58 PM

Hi Valerie and sw-friends,


I would like to ask for your comments about the following issue.


Within our delegs-projekt a group of specialized design-students have a second look at the various SW-symbols. From their point of view there are options to “improve” the design of some symbols in order to make the whole SW-symbol-font look more “modern” or “nice”


While preparing some studies of the ongoing process they showed up with the question whether the bent index can be written with smooth curves as well showing the index finger bent as you designed it as a finger with sharp edges.



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I played around with the signmaker to create a little demo of what I am talking about.  ;-))



Interesting question – so I looked carefully at the Symbolset and discovered that the “claw hand”  is designed exactly this way  (rounded lines for the fingers)

On the other hand the hands with only one, two or at least three fingers show this other design with sharp 90° angles.


Can you tell us: Is this a matter of history? Coming from the old “DOS-SW-Software – we could not write nice circles either. You know this “old symbol” just indicating that you are supposed to see a circle-movement shown as some dots in a circle.


What about this difference between a clawhand with curves or the same hand written with edges?



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Is there any meaningful difference in the background that you would want us to know?   Or is this a matter of artwork? ... or  something else?


Would it be any difference if we would write all these bent fingers with soft rounded lines?


Thank you very much for your attention.


All best