What Is The Difference Between
SIGNWRITING AND ENGLISH
SignWriting is a movement
writing system that records any movement of the human body.
It can therefore write any signed language in the world. It can
write movements that have no equivalent meaning in any spoken
language. And it makes it possible to write and type directly
in a signed language, with no spoken language translation needed.
There are times when this is important.
SignWriting is useful in recording elements of signed languages
that cannot be explained in words. For example, classifiers are
impossible to record with an equivalent word in English, because
there are no words that describe what classifiers describe! That
is why Salk
Institute is using SignWriting to record classifiers.
English gloss systems place English words in the grammar and
syntax of signed languages. These gloss systems developed mainly
because SignWriting did not exist at the time. Researchers and
teachers had no choice but to try in some way, to show the differences
in ASL, versus English.
English glosses can be confusing and
inaccurate. Why? Let us take the sign for HELP. In the SignWriting
ASL Dictionary, there are 34 conjugations, or variations,
of the verb HELP. Some of the entries are "to help",
"I help you", "You help me", "They help
each other", "They help us continuously", and
so forth. Some of these variations involve torso and shoulder
movement and facial expressions. All of them involve varying
degrees of depth. All this can be recorded with SignWriting,
but not with English gloss.
Written English uses abstract symbols to record sound. SignWriting
writes a visual language in a visual way. It is directly connected
to what you see when you sign, so it is easily learned by children.
Children have enough problems learning to read and write English
correctly. English gloss systems can confuse the picture by trying
to explain one language with the other. With SignWriting for
ASL, and English for English, the two languages are whole and
pure. It is our experience that children learn to read English
better when they have both languages written on paper correctly.