SignWriting List
February 8, 2000

The main problem has been "spelling." That is, I am still trying to understand how the symbols are to go together.

ANSWER 0020:
Spelling rules are based on how the symbols relate to each other....It is called Spatial Relationships. We have writing rules governing this.

Look at example 0020. It shows that the beginning position of a sign becomes the "center of the sign" and the movement symbol then "drags" the beginning position into the second position.

So when looking at the diagram, the handshape in the center is the beginning position of an imaginary sign. Then the movement symbol will "drag it" in different directions.

Sometimes we place another handshape at the end of the movement, and sometimes we don't - it just depends on whether the sign is readable without the second position.

Now, in the sign for God in ASL, the movement symbol "hits" the head symbol. In that case, which is an exception, we can move the arrow slightly to the side to avoid hitting the head...but it is still "relating to the hand" from underneath because it is moving back:



SignWriting List
February 9, 2000

The main problem has been "spelling." In the sign for "today" in German Sign Language, the index finger points down. There is a slight bend at the knuckle joint. How do I "spell" that sign?

ANSWER 0021:
In regards to spelling...remember that just a few months ago, there were no signs being written in SignWriting in Germany. So if there are spelling changes to be made in the future...just keep in mind what a short time it has been. It took centuries to establish spelling rules for other spoken languages, including English and German. Your dictionary will go through many changes for years to come, and that is normal for dictionary development.





A classic example are the symbols in Example 0021. They are very rarely used symbols. Here in the USA, people bend the index finger at the knuckle joint when they are doing the sign for "here", but we don't bother to write that detail, because if we write just a straight index finger without a bend in the knuckle joint, people still can read the sign in SignWriting....There are no confusions with other since it cannot be mis-read, why add the detail?

Only add that detail if you really think the sign can be misunderstood...a straight index finger is much easier to read for a detail like knuckle joint bending is more for research I would guess...

Now, if you want to write the knuckle joint bending, then use the symbol in Example 0021. The symbol has two variations. The first one shows the bend half way, and the second one all the way. The reason there is a gap or space on the square for the fist, and not at the finger area like we do in the straight index finger, is because the second variation would be harder to read without some finger line connecting it to the square for the fist...


Questions? Write to:

Valerie Sutton