SignWriting List
December 12, 2013

Hello Maria and Steve -
Thank you for this discussion, and Maria, please excuse my delay in working with you - I look forward to more contact soon ;-)

Regarding the sources of writing in the public SignPuddles, it is important to realize that SignPuddle Online, the part that is free and open to the general public, was never meant to be a database that is closed to the public and therefore controlled, with all elements known …Beginners are welcome to start writing something in SignPuddle Online, as a training experience, not because they want to be tracked and a part of any project, but just to learn some SignWriting symbols - some users have never even seen SignWriting before and are just “playing” with the software… and learning the symbols by experimenting with writing for the first time, is a wonderful experience and therefore too valuable for us to deny anyone. It would actually be detrimental to SignWriting to take away the feeling that a beginner can start to learn to write online for free and enjoy looking at other’s writings too…

So the public part of SignPuddle Online should not be compared to a controlled database…I want SignPuddle Online to be friendly for the general public and I enjoy conversing with people about how they wrote signs and the many issues that arise when learning how to write…Think how valuable it is here on the SignWriting List to be able to write something in SignPuddle Online and be able to direct people to see the sign there, and to then discuss it. 

Now, we DO have controlled SignPuddles, called Private WebPuddles, where only some writers are allowed to contribute writing, but the general public is always welcome to view and read and even copy what is in the Private WebPuddle…but only certain people are allowed to contribute writing to those databases. Those databases would be wonderful to study, because we know who the writers are...

So, Steve, if you want to build in more fields for tracking different people, under Source we could have:

source of sign language, such as “signed by…”
source of spoken language text such as “New Living Translation NLT”
source of sign language author, such as “composed directly in ASL and written in SignWriting by ___”
source of translator from spoken language to sign language, such as “translated from ___ to ___ by___"
source of transcriptionist from video, such as “transcribed from the video_____, and written in SignWriting by___”
source of the SignWriting copyist, who copies signs without knowing the signs…etc…

or maybe just a few generic fields more under Source will give us more opportunity to record multiple sources, or maybe a pull-down menu for more fields when needed -

Regarding my nephews and their childhood friend as the source of the Spanish Sign Language Literature puddle - We never expected, when I asked my nephews to copy old Spanish Sign Language documents from SignWriter DOS and from old printed materials, to be considered the”source of the sign language itself”…smile…at the time of the SignWriting Document Preservation Project in 2009 and later, which you can read about online: … I asked three boys to do the copy work symbol by symbol, into SignPuddle - at the time I needed their names in the Source area so I could see which boy had done the work, but then over time I never got back to putting in the correct sources for the actual sign language documents - Most of them are the Parkhursts but there are some that are an exception - so that is an example of why we cannot count on the public SignPuddles Online to be good sources for research - we would need a team of people to create clean databases - which could be done with funding, but if we had the funding, I would move the data to a Private WebPuddle open to visitors to read and enjoy...

So let me suggest, if you want to have a good Symbol Frequency Search, Maria, I would suggest studying Nancy Romero’s private web puddles - there are two of them:

ASL BIBLE Dictionary

ASL BIBLE Books (English to ASL Translations based on the NLT, by Nancy Romero)

and then there is:

ASL BIBLE Books (Deaf Missions Videos transcribed by Shores Deaf Church)

These are private databases with only a few writers - you can still do the Symbol Frequency searching on these databases…

Those are some of my thoughts ;-)

Thanks everyone -

Val ;-)


On Dec 12, 2013, at 9:35 AM, Stephen E Slevinski Jr <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> On 12/12/13, 10:17 AM, maria galea wrote:
>> Could I just point out an issue that has come up recently when investigating SignPuddles and using them as a tool to extract information about the writing system for different sign languages..
>> You see, some reviewers have been very critical about the symbol frequency count - not in itself naturally, but with the lack of information it provides about the inputters (writers), their expertise and even the lack of having an exact figure of how many people have written in a given Puddle.
> This is a fair criticism.
>> Without such information not much can be concluded from the results, since you would need exact figures of how many writers have inputted into a given Puddle, dates of when they inputted, and some information about their level of skill, whether they are native signers or otherwise..
> Some of this is available.
>> it would be a pity not to include such information (if it is possible) for the sake of future research.
> This would require tracking additional information.
>> Just to give an example, say you would like to investigate the writing system of the Spanish Literature Puddle (for instance you are investigating the symbols/glyphs used for Spanish sign language) - without information about the number of writers, whether they are native signers or hearing students, and dates of when the writing was created - there is not much you can conclude about the writing system of Spanish sign language (because if if it was written by one person this would be much more different than if it were written by say 15 people) you see my point?
> From the raw user data, I can pull this list.
> Anonymous: 67
> AndrewSutton: 16
> DavidCorreia: 14
> msutton: 346
> sutton: 12
> However, the user who entered the data isn't the same as the original writer.
>> I have no idea if such information can somehow be stored, as i have no expertise with programming at all; i can also see the problem with data-protection acts (but hey- what happened with the boom of social-networks such as Facebook!) but it would be great to somehow store such information for future research...
> This would be an interesting and valuable addition to the SignPuddle project, but not the core focus.  
> I have a few ideas that will answer some of you questions, but it will not answer them all.
> Thanks Maria for your input.
> Regards,
> -Steve
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