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From:  "Wayne H. Smith"
Date:  Mon May 10, 1999  4:38 pm
Subject:  No Fingerspelling for Taiwan Sign Language

Joe Martin wrote:

>Question for Wayne Smith and/or people in Taiwan:
>What about Bopomofo?
>Isn't that widely used throughout the Republic? How feasible/useful would
>it be to have a typewriter typing Zhuyin Zimu?

Joe -
Well, there are several issues here. One is that Zhuyin Fuhao
("Bopomofo") is almost never used in print form to write exclusively. It
always accompanies printed Chinese characters as an adjunct that Deaf people
here in Taiwan pay no attention to. (It's one of those Hearie things, you
know.) Even those Deaf people who have reasonable speech, do not relate to
the Zhuyin Fuhao symbols very well. They, like the rest of the island, go
directly to the written characters.
Another big issue is that although there have been several attempts to
establish a "standard" fingerspelling for the Zhuyin Fuhao symbols (I even
invented one myself), none of them has ever been officially adopted and Deaf
people don't use any of them. My basis for claiming that there is no
fingerspelling in Taiwan is simply that if you watch ten years of TSL
communication between Deaf signers of TSL, you won't see them use anything
like fingerspelling, such as in ASL. In the U.S., you probably couldn't go
half a minute without some kind of fingerspelling.
What Deaf people here do do when an ASL signer might use fingerspelling
(personal or place names, etc.) would be to use "palmwriting" or
"airwriting", i.e. writing out the character in the palm or in the air in
front of them. That, if anything, would be the equivalent of fingerspelling
in TSL, but you couldn't put that onto a SW fingerspelling keyboard.
So, the situation remains the same. There is no fingerspelling in
Taiwan Sign Language.
- Wayne Smith
P.S. I'm curious, Joe, can you receive Chinese characters on your computer
(e-mail, etc.)?

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