Hi James - Stefan can of course speak for himself, but since I'm at the computer I'll just briefly note from my observations in his class he does use both German Sign Language and Signed German - and clearly treats them as different codes (i.e., SG is framed as German in a different modality not as a sign language). I think he was focusing on his use of Signed German in his earlier message to highlight the ways in which he thinks SW can be useful for teaching a spoken language. I'd never been comfortable with the use of a signed version of a spoken language in other educational settings I've observed, but the way that Stefan distinguishes it from German Sign Language and uses each to different ends - or as a means to compare grammatical structures between the two codes- was really interesting.
Stefan, please correct me if I'm misframing anything you do.
Best,
Erika


On Sun, Dec 22, 2013 at 5:08 PM, James Shepard-Kegl <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Stefan,

I think you and I are going to have to respectfully disagree.

I would point out some issues for all:

1)  The methodology that Stefan has described is not a BILINGUAL approach; rather, it is a BI-MODEL methodology.  Signed German is not a language different from German; it is a manual form of German.  Use it if you must; but recognize it for what it is.

2)  Referring to name-signs in SignWriting as pictograms may be appropriate for a Deaf child on his or her first day of school, but know this:  by that logic, showing the kid his written German name is also using a pictogram.

3)  It truly is more difficult to write a sign than to recognize one.  But, that is true of written English and German, too.  Both othorgraphic systems are phonetic systems: German employs an aural based phonetic code; SignWriting is, if you will, a VISUALLY PHONETIC system.  Most hearing children use a whole word approach when learning to read, but understand that the code itself is based on sounds that are put together to form words.  AND HERE IS MY POINT:  To Deaf chidren, a written German word is a pictogram -- a jumble of otherwise pointless letters whose order must be memorized.  But, when shown how SignWriting works, these children can immediately appreciate the concept that writing systems use a code.  In the case of SignWriting, that code is merely symbols for handshapes, movement and direction, contact, location, etc.  Only when a Deaf child recognizes this, can he or she solve the mystery of how hearing people can so consistently spell words in German so accurately
 .  You see, as a hearing person I can quickly relate to the concept that SignWriting is a visually phonetic code.  First, I am not blind, so I can see that it is.  Second, I am already comfortable with the notion of an aurally phonetic writing system.  Alas, the Deaf child -- or the profoundly deaf child, anyway -- may never actually know what a sound is, just like chldren born totally blind cannot imagine colors.  But with SignWriting, the Deaf child might grasp the idea of a sound based writing code by analogy.

-- James

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Erika Hoffmann-Dilloway
Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Oberlin College
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