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2.2 Writing signs in SignWriting

In the SignWriting system, a sign is represented by a set of symbols. The whole set of symbols is called the SignWriting Symbol Sequence (see the SignBank site).

A typical sign written in the SignWriting system is the following:

The sign for "deaf" (the same in ASL and in LIBRAS)

The main classes of symbols are: heads and hands (obvious in the sign for "deaf"), movements (usually arrows, not illustrated in the sign for "deaf") and contacts (illustrated by the asterisk).

Symbols can be submitted to many kinds of transformations. Typical are the various positions in which one single hand configuration can be used (palm facing the signer, back facing the signer, etc.). Also, the relative positioning of the various symbols, and the rotations in which they can be placed, are important transformations.

The set of information concerning a symbol being used in a sign comprises, at the end, seven items:

shape number (indicating the symbol outline) fill (a code for the way the outline is filled, generally indicating its facing to the signer) variation (indicating complementary transformations) rotation (in steps of 45 degrees, which is a discretization with enough linguistic relevance) flop (indicating if the symbol is mirrored or not) x and y (the symbol coordinates within the sign-box containing the sign to which it belongs)