On 9/18/13 11:31 AM, Valerie Sutton wrote:
> SignWriting List
> September 18, 2013
> Dear SignWriting List Members:
> I have been asked to answer these 10 questions.
> Many thanks for your input!  Val ;-)
>> 1. Some people say "why do they not use English".. How different is a 
>> sign language from a spoken language?

The fundamental similarity between a spoken language and a sign language 
is seen in the brain.  Both types of language activate the same language 
centers of the brain.  Wernicke's area for language comprehension and 
Broca's area for language production.

Learning a sign language from birth is natural.  The visual cortex is 
built and connected for language.  If spoken language is not used, the 
auditory cortex will not develop for language processing.

Learning a spoken language from birth is natural.  The auditory cortex 
is built and connected for language.  If only spoken language is used, 
then the visual cortex will not develop for language processing. Later 
in life, trying to learn a sign language with an underdeveloped visual 
cortex is very difficult.  Instead of directly processing language, the 
information enters the eye, passes to the brain, then the ear, and back 
to the brain.  The early stages of learning a sign language results in a 
unique type of brain fatigue. It takes time and effort to developing the 
processing power of the visual cortex and the associated connections 
with the language centers of the brain.

>> 2. How do you explain what it means when a language cannot be written
Writing a language helps standardize and spread that language.   It 
slows the rate of change and deepens the conversations possible between 
people and generations.

A language that cannot be written may have unique benefits, but the 
benefits of reading and writing are many and valuable.

>> 3. SignWriting is a script. How many languages are written in 
>> SignWriting?
At least 2 dozen sign languages has serious writing efforts with 
SignWriting.  There are over 70 recognized sign languages.  Each can be 
written with SignWriting.

>> 4. Can you recognise what sign language it is from a written text?
A human reader could read and recognize any sign language that they 
know.  If the target language isn't know, they would not be able to read 
for comprehension, but they might be able to read the movements just as 
a reader an unknown spoken language could sound out a word but might not 
be able to figure out its meaning or proper pronunciation.

A computer that was processing written sign language would not be able 
to determine the target language without comparison to a language aware 
database for similar signs.  The best way to identify language content 
is with a language code attached to a text segment.

>> 6. The use of SignWriting is growing rapidly. How do you know about 
>> how it develops?
The standardization efforts of the ISWA 2010 symbol set and the Formal 
SignWriting character encoding have been very profitable.

The information is out there and available.  People are taking it and 
running with it.  There are no gatekeepers.

The SignWriting List is a great place to discuss SignWriting. 
Interesting things are happening on Wikimedia's Incubator.  Many 
projects and developments happen offline so some information is not 
available.  New research and ideas are popping up all the time, just 
keep checking the internet search engines.

For example, a paper recently appeared online.  " CMSY9 May the Force be 
with you: Force-Aligned SignWriting for Automatic Subunit Annotation of 

>> 7. Can SignWriting be used on mobile phones or is there an app for that?
Mobile phone usage is a target to be ready for the symposium. Reading is 
possible.  Writing is not available yet.  The apps are in development.

>> 9. How hard would it be to have the pupils at these schools write two 
>> articles a month ... How many Wikipedias could be started that way?
This would be difficult with the current technology.  The technology 
will either be ready for the symposium in 2014, or this will be the main 
issues for the hackathon portion of the Symposium.

Once this last hurdle is crossed, we can start Wikipedias for any of the 
70+ sign languages of the world.

>> 10. Why is Wikipedia strategically important for getting more people 
>> to know about SignWriting?
Wikipedia is a known brand dedicated to encouraging the growth, 
development and distribution of free, educational content.  The 
wiki-based project is provided to the public free of charge. This 
culture is important for SignWriting's future.