SignWriting List
July 1, 2010

Hello Dali and Adam!

Thank you for this question, Dali, and thank you Adam, for your answer. And thank you for your answer too, Charles...

You do not need to be embarrassed, Dali, to ask any question, and this one is a good one! It oftentimes comes up. There are two theories in the SignWriting world on how to write these handshapes, when the fingers are in an Angle or Hinge position, and both ways of writing them are fine....So just relax and enjoy the differences. Vive les différences!

Let me explain the writing method I know best - the one we use here...let's call our writing method the "Sutton-DAC" style of writing ;-)

The Sutton-DAC way of writing Hinge and Angle Handshapes relates to the "Center of the Body". I work with a group of Deaf ASL signers, the Deaf Action Committee for SignWriting (the DAC). In the late 1980s and 1990s, the DAC used to meet in my home every Wednesday nights. Sometimes we would have 7 or 8 Deaf people sitting in my living room, drinking coffee and arguing about grammar and writing issues together - it was really exhilarating for me to be in on these discussions and this had a profound influence on me and our writing style. In recent years, it has been more "on the internet" discussions with Deaf writers, but in Adam's case, we are a team. Adam just arrived here today, from up north, and will be staying with me July and August, before going to Gallaudet University in September. Adam and I are writing a book together on SignWriting Handshapes, documenting the ISWA 2010, and this issue will be discussed at length in our new textbook.

In our way of writing, the fingers are directed towards the center of the body most of the time. Adam and other Deaf ASL signers looked at their own hands while signing, and we discussed this a lot over several years, and it seems that it is rare that the hand ever really turns out to the outside of the body. When people are signing, they usually direct their fingers in a relaxed way, slightly into the center of the body. So we write the fingers of these handshapes directed towards the center of the body, like in the sign for FOOD or EAT: