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SignWriting List
October 22, 2013

Here is the scanned paper I presented at the NSSLRT in Boston in 1980, and published in the proceedings in 1981-82. This paper was presented before the SignWriter Newspaper started in 1981, and six years before the SignWriter Computer Program…It is interesting for me to read this paper. Our dreams and hopes for the future are the same to this day. We want a way to read and write any sign language, and we want literature and ways to publish the literature. And we want a way to write for both research and everyday use….and English gloss is not "writing in ASL" from my perspective…for me "writing in ASL" means to write the facial expressions, handshapes, movements and so forth …all these topics were discussed and if you see this from a 1980 perspective - this concept was revolutionary at the time, and controversial - I was stating that we can write sign languages visually with visual symbols and be proud to be "visual" which at that time, was unheard of - and although people knew that sign languages were real languages at that time, they were not really ready to "write sign language" yet - they still felt you could only read and write spoken languages - so that is why I had such dynamic questions after the talk - essentially people were saying "how do you have the courage to write when everyone else is against the idea?"… I will always treasure the feeling of breaking new ground and pioneering a new idea - and knowing that putting the idea out into the universe could give others new ideas for the future…There was no internet and no personal computers at that time - so I am glad I scanned this into my computer now… Thank you for stimulating this "blast to our past", Fabrizio -


http://www.signwriting.org/archive/docs10/sw0923_Analyze_ASL_Paper_Presented_NSSLRT_Boston_1980_Valerie_Sutton.pdf

Val ;-)

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On Oct 22, 2013, at 8:46 AM, Valerie Sutton <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> SignWriting List
> October 22, 2013
> 
> Hello Fabrizio and everyone!
> I am happy to tell you I found the paper, that I presented in Boston in 1980, to the Third National Symposium on Sign Language Research and Teaching (NSSLRT). It appears the proceedings were published in book form in 1982.  But I believe the actual Symposium was in 1980 in Boston, if I am not mistaken… I do not have the full book of the proceedings but only the pages of my paper from the book...I am scanning it into my computer right now, and will post it next message as a PDF - smile - Thank you for re-awakening old history, Fabrizio!
> 
> It is interesting to see how we wrote back in the beginning of the system - it really was readable if you can read receptive stick figures - and there were facial expressions from the beginning - lots of them -

>  Val ;-)
> 
> 
> ----------
> 
> 
> On Oct 15, 2013, at 10:14 AM, Fabrizio Borgia <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
>> Dear Valerie,
>> Wow! That's far more than I expected! Thanks for the very useful documentation!
>> I am finishing right now the section about the History of SignWriting, and it is an honour to listen, told in first person by you, the stories of the events that I'm writing about.
>> Thanks again!
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 2013/10/14 Valerie Sutton <[log in to unmask]>
>> SignWriting List
>> October 14, 2013
>> 
>> On Oct 14, 2013, at 6:07 AM, Fabrizio Borgia <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>> I am writing the "SignWriting" Chapter for my Ph.D Thesis, and I was looking for the following paper:
>>> 
>>> A Way To Analyze American Sign Language & Any Other Sign Language Without Translation Into Any Spoken Language
>>> Paper presented by Valerie Sutton to the National Symposium on Sign Language Research and Teaching in Boston, Massachusetts.
>>> 
>>> I do not seem to find it on the SW website, can anyone help?
>> 
>> ---------
>> 
>> Hello Fabrizio!
>> The paper you mention above was presented in 1980. That is a long time ago (smile), before the time of the SignWriter Newspaper (when we really started to write more), and SignWriting looked quite different in 1980. We all used stick figures. We were starting to experiment writing without stick figures, but we had not made the transition yet… The next year, in 1981, we started to focus full time on SignWriting… before that time I was working as a Faculty member in the Dance Department of the Boston Conservatory, where DanceWriting was required for graduating with a dance degree…In 1979 I worked as a consultant to the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) on a SignWriting project…and the paper you mention above was stimulated by that work at NTID.
>> 
>> I have to find the above paper and scan it for you, Fabrizio - I will do that as soon as I can - I would like to read it myself! It has been a long time….If I remember correctly, my presentation at the conference was packed, with standing room only, and there were many good and also controversial questions, questioning me as to why it was necessary to write sign language? and why would I think that a dancer had any right to write the language? It was a difficult but interesting time - I pointed out to everyone through interpreters, that I do not know sign languages, but instead we write body movement in general, without making any linguistic judgements, and signers who know their language choose to write their language using the SignWriting symbols - so my neutrality in not knowing any sign language is a good thing, because I am not trying to influence any language but just give the world the gift of a tool…
>> 
>> I will never forget that presentation, because I got to know some of the best and brightest in the upcoming field of sign language linguistics, and quite a number of them use SignWriting now, and the atmosphere is totally different today in 2013 - Now there is a feeling of acceptance and just an assumption that of course we all write sign language and that is the way it should be…. so new ideas take time, and the paper you mention was in the beginning of it all ...
>> 
>> Thanks for asking, Fabrizio - I will post it when I find it!
>> 
>> Val ;-)
>> 
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>> 
>> 
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>> 
>> 
>> 
>> -- 
>> Fabrizio Borgia, M.D.
>> 
>> Ph.D. Student
>> Sapienza - Università di Roma   
>> Université Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier
>> 
>> O&M SW Engineering Intern
>> SERCO S.p.A.
>> 
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