SignWriting List Archive 1
October 1997 - May 1998

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February 18, 1998

SUBJECT: Help In Research

Date: Wed, 18 Feb 1998 11:42:31 gmt
From: alice thacker <>
Subject: Re: Help in Research
To: SignWriting <>

Hello Cecelia;
A very quick note re: my use of SIGNwriter in my research: My doctorate looks at schizophrenic sign .. that is, the sort of language errors that prelingually deaf signers make when they become schizophrenic.

In order to describe some of these very bizarre signs correctly, it was important to have a "phonetic" transcription system, that is, one that allowed me to describe exactly what I saw, without being locked in to conventional signs. So, for example, if a patient produced a handshape that doesn't exist in British Sign Language, I could quite easily draw the shape. (Or show an unusual location on the face, etc.). This would not be possible with the Stokoe-type systems, which rigidly classify handshapes (e.g. "B hand" or "G hand").

The other thing about SIGNwriter is that it reflects the simultaneous nature of sign - handshape, location, and movement occur at the same time, as they do in reality, of course. Linear systems lose that visuo-spatial element.

Alice Thacker