SignWriting List
August 11, 2013

Hi Charles -
Great to hear from you…Congratulations on the dictionary you are working on….I think a printed dictionary will be great and I look forward to reading it...

Regarding the natural process of writing fewer symbols through the evolution of writing thick books...

I think all this will evolve on its own, with or without us…

Writing systems change through use and we have thick books now, with thousands of written pages in ASL, and that is partly why some of these simplifications developed…

And certainly you are right that when one is new to learning to read any language, more information is needed - I remember learning Danish and having to learn the new alphabetic characters in the Danish spoken language, that are added to the Roman alphabet that Danish requires, and to this day those special alphabetic characters are not as natural for me, since they are not in my native language, English…

So to clarify what is happening here with our ASL books …if we write the hands looking like they are touching each other…putting them very close to each other….rather than far apart…If that "picture" of contact is written well…then we can see they are touching no matter what, and then in those cases, the Touch Star may be a reinforcement, but not a requirement, because you can see the contact in the placement of the hands… This is only true for single Touch…a Touch-Touch (a double touch) is different because it is a real movement…DoubleTouch has to be written because it is a movement.

Here is an example of two ways to write HOUSE in ASL…which can be written with a single Touch Star, but it can also be written without, if the Position of Contact is written well…we are also not writing the Same-Time curved line any longer because we are assuming that the movement is done at the same time unless otherwise stated…see attached diagram...

Thanks for listening everyone! 

I am creating PowerPoint versions of all our textbooks, and will give you the links on the web shortly -

I am also reading the first couple of chapters of Maria Galea's dissertation this week - Very exciting, Maria!

Val ;-)


On Aug 11, 2013, at 11:03 AM, Charles Butler <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

I have to agree with you. Touching hands to me must TOUCH, actually TOUCH. If you don't know the language and are trying to learn it, you need all the help you can get. 

3 is okay, 1 and 2 actually need a star to be certain. 3 is close enough that I would understand the sign either with the hand touching or not. 

However, in a dictionary, I'm trying to have * followed by ** not what looks like "no touch" followed by "touch twice". Sometimes simple works for quick writing but not for extended study. 

Either way works. 

My current LIBRAS dictionary project is somewhere in the "5" hands and is about 200 pages long. My intent is for people to have an actual printed dictionary of the current LIBRAS corpus by the end of the year. What happens if the power goes down, the CD won't boot up, and you have no access to an i-Phone. A dictionary, a real dictionary, will always be useful. 

Telling people that a videotape or an on-line dictionary is sufficient misses the point of a written language. 
Charles Butler
[log in to unmask]
Clear writing moves business forward.

From: Valerie Sutton <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Saturday, August 10, 2013 11:34 PM
Subject: Re: Evolution to Simplified SignWriting

SignWriting List
August 10, 2013

On Aug 10, 2013, at 4:10 PM, Eduardo Trápani <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
First of all, I'm just a beginner.  I find this "simplification" a bit confusing, I wouldn't know how to do the sign on the right if I had read it alone. I mean, is it *that* obvious for everybody that the hands are so close that they touch?

Hi Eduardo and Madson -

Eduardo, I can understand your confusion. Let me tell you the story as I know it. We have a writing guideline called "Write the Position of Contact". In other words, we are trying to write signs like they look in real life, as much as possible….Sometimes it is hard to write something exactly as it looks, but most of the time, hands can be placed together and it feels more like the real signs…So the intention is to show the two hands contacting each other… if that is what the sign requires.

So regarding this…. see the attached diagrams. Number 1 does not follow the Position of Contact, because the hands are far apart from each other, and the Touch Star comes between the two hands, so I asked Madson to try to write the hands closer to each other to make it look like real life more... Madson wrote version 2 below, so I asked Adam to ask Madson if we could write the hands even closer to each other, like my version 3, but if I understand it correctly Madson explained that the sign can actually be signed without contact too…and so Madson felt that Number 2 was more accurate showing the hands close but not necessarily touching…

Oftentimes signers sign quickly and they do not always touch in certain signs, and the signs are still understood...

Madson, I appreciate it very much that you went to so much effort - If I have misunderstood anything in my explanation above, you are welcome to correct me - Your new logo is an improvement - it looks nice!