Any word written in
SignWriting has the face, or shoulder bar on top (if necessary)
and the handshape(s) around the face or shoulder bar. General
movements are below the handshape(s) , but finger movements are
indicated by the fingers of the handshape(s) and head movements
are indicated by the face symbol . A sign dictionary written in
SignWriting looks up lexical items based on the ten groups of
handshapes, then on the movements, also broken down into groups,
then facial expressions, then head and body positions as
demonstrated in Appendix G.
Two questionable SignWriting practices involve punctuation and the writing of fingerspelled words. Punctuation in SignWriting makes use of bars. One vertical, slightly thick bar placed after a sign indicates a period. Two thin vertical bars indicate a pause or comma , and two thin vertical bars slightly further apart indicate a longer pause or semi-colon . Two bars next to each other, one thin and the other thick indicate a question mark . Two thick bars indicate a colon . Parentheses and quotes look similar to the punctuation marks used in English. All of the punctuation marks used in SignWriting can be the same as those used to write English: . , ; ? : ( ).
There is no reason for SignWriting to adopt unique punctuation marks for American Sign Language and it does not take away from the writing of SignWriting to use English punctuation marks. Furthermore, when a signer fingerspells an English word in ASL, SignWriting uses the appropriate handshape symbol to write the letters in the English word. This is also possibly a convention that could be changed. Writing SignWriting by hand, one would probably write the fingerspelled word in English letters instead of writing the handshapes for each of the letters...*Footnote 15...
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