SignWriting List
August 14, 2019

Thank you, André! Perfectly illustrated and taught without words but examples ;-)

Alternating is "back and forth - at least two movements with the same hand that goes in one direction and then the opposite direction (alternating directions) like forward-back, or forward-back-forward - as André illustrates in the ASL sign for COMMUNICATE

The alternating arrows are grouped together in clusters (little groups). The reader reads the arrow closest to the center of the body first (reads from the center and out). We actually named these clusters "Double Alternating Movement", and "Triple Alternating Movement". The word Alternating is in the name of the symbol itself. For example, in the ASL dictionary in SignPuddle 2, there are 656 signs that use the Triple Alternating Movement symbols forward and back and forward:

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When I searched for signs using the Triple Alternating Movement symbol I found these:

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and there are a lot more on the diagonal and so forth. So the Alternating Movement symbols are standardized symbols that can be searched for... - and the Alternating Timing symbol is not necessary in most cases - 

On Aug 14, 2019, at 6:56 PM, André Thibeault <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Hi Adam, Val and everyone,

1)  Same time

2)  Same time alternating (Communication)

Best regards,

De : Adam Frost <[log in to unmask]>
Répondre à : "SignWriting List: Read and Write Sign Languages" <[log in to unmask]>
Date : Wed, 14 Aug 2019 16:56:34 -0700
À : <[log in to unmask]>
Objet : Re: Timing Symbols

Yes, I suspect we are talking apples and oranges, which is probably partly due to me switching back and forth between full SignWriting and making a shortened form for handwriting. ;-)

I think I will pull it back a little because it seems I don’t understand the “same time alternating” as well as I thought. I could get into why I thought that, but I think it might be better if we get back to basics and then see where the thought paths diverge.

Let's consider these two writings. (This is how I would normally write them for publication. Ha!)

<glyphogram1.png>            <glyphogram2.png>

If I were to add the timing symbols, I would add the “Same Time” symbol to the first writing. What about the second writing? Which timing symbol would be correctly used?


On Aug 14, 2019, at 1:28 PM, Valerie Sutton <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

SignWriting List
August 14, 2019

Oh you are doing a great job, Adam -

Thank you for accepting being a co-author with me on a new manual "SignWriting Movement Symbols Manual". It will be exciting for me to work with you on these details...

I suspect we are talking about apples and oranges. In your case you are trying to develop good handwriting techniques and we are in sore need of your help, and others help too, when it comes to handwriting... 

But what is important to me is to be sure I can read your formal usage of the Timing symbols. I do not believe it has anything to do with diagonal or straight forward.

You see, originally we never had Alternating Symbols, because we could see the alternating movement through the way we wrote the arrows in movement clusters.

Then, when we added the symbol "Alternating" writers were not always sure how to use it. It really is only a reinforcement for the information of alternating, which is already written in the movement cluster that has alternating symbols.

So here is how I would write the last one...just change the arrows to show alternating and it works ;-)

[log in to unmask]" class=""><alternating.png>

So your shortened writing is doing fine!

Forward-forward and alternating are simply different movement clusters - thats all -

Val ;-)


On Aug 14, 2019, at 12:54 PM, Adam Frost <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

I guess you are right about the last one. My shortened writing might actually mean more of a reciprocity in movement. So I guess movements going to opposite corners on the same wall is another case where what I was thinking for using the timing symbols wouldn’t exactly work.

It seems that if I use non-diagonal movements, there isn’t much of a problem with using these timing symbols to give information what the other hand is doing. However, things really start to break down once I start using diagonal movements. Too many possibilities I guess.


On Aug 14, 2019, at 12:38 PM, Valerie Sutton <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Someone told me they could not read the diagram we were discussing, so here is a screen capture:

[log in to unmask]" class=""><Screen Shot 2019-08-14 at 11.54.06 AM.png>

The handwriting is fine Adam. One-handed writing with Timing symbols should work. The only issue is that there is a feeling difference and a production difference between alternating movement arrows and forward-forward - 

the  very last example here would not be possible - it is saying to alternate both hands at the same time but only move forward-forward with both hands at the same time so there is no alternating then

so the Alternating Timing Symbol must have alternating Movement Clusters to match with it, or it is not readable, unless new definitions are created -

On Aug 14, 2019, at 12:00 PM, Valerie Sutton <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Hi Adam -
I am so sorry that I do not see the alternating in these writings -

You only have " forward-forward movement" - where is the "forward-back" movement that is needed for alternating?

I would need you to sign the first one for me to understand what you are trying to write -

Is this what you are writing?

right forward, then left forward, then right forward, then left forward

or are you doing

forward-forward right and then forward-forward left?

why do they have to be forward-forward? why can't they have alternating in the symbol cluster?

On Aug 14, 2019, at 11:49 AM, Adam Frost <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

When writing with full formal Signwriting, I don’t really use the timing symbols; however, I have found that the use of timing symbols when writing only the right hand allows me to encode what the left hand is doing in a simple and fast fashion.

I should clarify I sent formal written SignWriting to show clearly what signs I was referring to. If I were to use how I currently handwrite, two of the writings wouldn’t be clear. I will place the formal writing and shortened writing side by side. Notice the first two shortened writings are basically the same.

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On Aug 14, 2019, at 11:06 AM, Valerie Sutton <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

SignWriting List
August 14, 2019

Hi Adam and SW List members ;-)

Thank you for sharing your handwriting question with us, Adam. My answer is below so scroll down...

INTRODUCTION for our list members:
There are two ways to write SignWriting...

1. "SignWriting Printing" for printing books in written sign language, and writing Wikipedia articles and other formal publications.
2. "SignWriting Handwriting" for quick writing for note taking and personal use

In my work, I am focusing on Printing sign language literature.

For example right now I am working on the layout and publishing of the entire New Testament in written ASL, that was translated from the English Bible into ASL and written in SignWriting by Nancy Romero. It took Nancy over a decade to write all 27 books of the New Testament in ASL, and now we are printing all of the 27 NT books in 8 ASL volumes. I am completing volume 6 right now, and within a few months we will have all 8 volumes ready to distribute to the public. I will announce it of course ;-)

The publishing of sign language literature has helped me focus on one issue: is the way we are publishing "easy-to-read-at-a-glance"? Can the reader understand the sentences quickly and visually, without having to "guess" what the writer means? And have we captured the true "visual" nature of sign languages while we are also writing grammar, structure and so many necessary details required of all written literature?

So writing literature is different than writing handwriting by hand.

Meanwhile - Adam uses SignWriting Handwriting everyday I believe and teaches using it to his ASL classrooms - Handwriting has another focus - it is to aid the writer to write quickly for note taking etc... and it is not as standardized... more individualized...

Adam presented a paper on SW Handwriting at our SignWriting Symposium 2014:

ANSWERING Adam's question:

Here is my question to you Adam - in your examples that you show us below, all of the examples look like the formal writing - they look like Printing -

But I am assuming that you took away one hand and you are writing one-handed signing as a handwriting method for speed, and what has happened is that there are times when you actually need both hands - right?

But there is a solution both for the Printing and Handwriting - There is a misunderstanding about the Alternating Symbol. Technically the Alternating Symbol isn't even needed if you write the sign using alternating arrows. The Movement Cluster of "alternating arrows" existed long before we ever had the Alternating symbol, and we were able to write anything clearly without the abstract symbol called Alternating.

The key is how one "reads" the Movement Cluster. You always read the cluster from the inside-out. So in the example I have attached, the left hand is moving forward while the right hand is moving back at the same time. And then the directions reverse. All this is happening simultaneously. So no Alternating Symbol is even needed if you know how to read the Movement Cluster. If in your Handwriting you can write it that way, it should help ;-)

[log in to unmask]" class=""><Screen Shot 2019-08-14 at 10.51.36 AM.png>

[log in to unmask]" class=""><Screen Shot 2019-08-14 at 10.47.34 AM.png>


On Aug 14, 2019, at 9:47 AM, Adam Frost <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Ok. This is good to know. ;-)

Now for a little background before I explain my conundrum. (Ha!)

When I write by hand, I generally shorten it by only writing the right hand’s movement and then using these timing symbols — first 3 actually — to explain what the left hand is doing. For the most part, this has worked fine for me. Then I tried to write a few different verb agreements for “repetitively sending”.

There is a version of the verb “to send" that uses the alternating movement of both hands which can be used to explain the actions of a professional mover placing various furnitures into a moving van. For this, I used the “every other time” symbol.

When I read my writing, I wasn’t sure if it was the above described sign, or another version of this “to send” verb that means to sort various objects into two different locations.

I wrote the full version with the left hands for both. Notice that removing the left handshapes and movements would make these both written the same.

This lead me to wonder what the writing would look like if the movement wasn’t alternating or “every other time”. Both are possible versions with this verb.

This writing would mean to repeatedly put objects into the same location.

And this writing would mean the same as above but into two different locations.

So I guess those would be clear if I were to only write the right hand with the timing symbols. I’m not sure how I would make the first two clear while only writing the right hand and the timing symbols.


On Aug 14, 2019, at 9:10 AM, Valerie Sutton <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

SignWriting List
August 14, 2019

Hello Adam and SW List members -

Thank you for this question. Yes, the definitions you list are the more recent definitions which I believe are clear. It is confirmed that they are correct.

Years ago, I called them "Movement Dynamics" in the Lessons in SignWriting Textbook, on page 183. Attached is a screen capture of that page from the book, plus the sign for FEW in ASL that is an example of the Gradual Movement Symbol, which is like two miniature SLOW and SMOOTH symbols placed between two positions, to mean "gradually moving into the next position". The Gradual symbol is always small between two positions.

[log in to unmask]" class=""><FEW in ASL.png>

[log in to unmask]" class=""><Movement_Dynamics_Lessons_p183.png>

On Aug 14, 2019, at 8:48 AM, Adam Frost <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

I just wanted to confirm the definitions of these four symbols. (I have added the image below for reference just in case people can’t read the font.)

<Image 8-14-19 at 8.29 AM.jpg>

1. 񋸡 The ISWA 2010 Reference calls this “Same Time”. This means that both hands travel along their path simultaneously.
2. 񋺁 The ISWA 2010 Reference calls this “Same Time Alternating”. This means that both hands travel along their path simultaneously in opposite directions.
3. 񋻡 The ISWA 2010 Reference calls this “Every Other Time”. This means that both hands travel along their path while the other hand isn’t moving. There is no distinction to moving in the “opposite direction” like the previous symbol.
4. 񋽁 The ISWA 2010 Reference calls this “Gradual”. This means that the change from one handshape to the next has a flowing change rather than an immediate change.




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