SignWriting List
August 15, 2013

Yes, Steve, without your years of development of programming the searches that are available in SignPuddle…especially the one called "Search by Symbol Frequency", Adam could not have pinned down which hand symbols to place in the new book…So now you have inspired me to explain this story better - We should add a foreword or introduction to the book documenting how this was done. Maybe Adam can explain how he was able to decide on the 86 ASL hand symbols…using your searches in SignPuddle…

This means that other sign languages can also have their own Hand Symbols book. For example, the German Sign Language Dictionary in SignPuddle is very large (21,711 entries). Using the Search by Symbol Frequency feature: 

it would be interesting to see how many hand symbols are used to write German Sign Language…Some symbols are only used once, then those are not considered important and probably can be replaced by another more used symbol, so there is some work involved to decide which hand symbols are important and which are not…

Steve helped me solidify the International SignWriting Alphabet 2008 and 2010 - it is such a huge writing system and before that time we were using the International Movement Writing Alphabet 2004 which included symbols from DanceWriting as well as SignWriting. But in 2008 Steve helped me focus on just the symbols used to write SignWriting so our symbol set for software could be a little smaller and more specific. This was a huge job and neither Steve nor I will ever forget how much work it was, and it is still a job for other software developers to re-install the new ISWA 2010 into their software....

So thank you Steve and Adam, for making this new book possible!

Val ;-)


On Aug 15, 2013, at 6:23 PM, Stephen E Slevinski Jr <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Hi Val & Adam,

Congratulations on this amazing work.  It reminds me of the tip of the iceberg.  There is so much work that came before this book that isn't visible, but this book would have been impossible without all of the ground work that came before it.

It is a very fun book to look through.  I love how it is based on actual usage, rather than opinion.  I might have to open up the symbol frequency reports to see how often the different hand shapes are used.  It is very interesting.

Thanks for the mention on page 2.  I am proud that I was able to encourage your work.

Warm regards,

On 8/15/13 4:56 PM, Valerie Sutton wrote:
[log in to unmask]" type="cite"> SignWriting List
August 15, 2013

Hello SignWriting List!
We have a new book to share with the world.... Adam Frost used SignPuddle Online ( to search to see how many hand symbols were used to write American Sign Language in the ASL Dictionary, ASL Literature and ASL Bible databases, and through that process, 86 hand symbols were chosen. This is out of the 261 hand symbols in the entire International SignWriting Alphabet (ISWA 2010) (

So here is the new book, free for download:

NEW BOOK: American Sign Language Hand Symbols Manual

Available in four formats:
PDF, PowerPoint, Keynote and a Printed Book

Go to:

Thank you, Adam! And I hope you all enjoy the new book ;-)

Val ;-)

PS. It is very similar to the International Hand Symbols Manual…just a smaller book…

Valerie Sutton
SignWriting List moderator
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