Two Notation Systems for Signed Languages:
Stokoe Notation & Sutton SignWriting
Western Washington University
William Stokoe's proof that ASL was a true human language
ranks among the great intellectual achievements of all time.
The resulting separation of language from speech has solved one
of history's great philosophical problems, and forced us to revise
our most fundamental ideas. No longer can language be defined
in terms of sounds, and time-honored concepts like arbitrariness
and linearity have taken on new roles. We are well past the time
when it is acceptable to state that "talking =thinking =
being human" (Leiberman 4), or that "the primary defining
feature of writing is the representation of speech" (DeFrancis
248). We are approaching the point where no one can afford to
remain ignorant of these advances and still call themselves linguists.
The future calls upon us to look far outside the traditional
domain of linguistic study and to examine methods previously
seen as having no bearing on the science.