SignWriting List
February 24, 2000


My Deaf students want to know: did Cindy make a mistake in the SW of `Deaf'? That is because `Deaf' has two contact points and not one as shown on the video. I would also like to know...

ANSWER 0042:

Smile. No...Cindy did not make a mistake...all three of us who worked on the video felt that the sign for "Deaf" was written properly.

Below I have attached a diagram showing 5 possible "SW spellings" for the same sign for "Deaf". All of them are correct too...

And of course, in time certain "spellings" will become standardized. But at the moment, people write the sign for "Deaf" in several different ways, and we all read them anyway!

You see...SignWriting has many symbols, and it is up to the writer to decide what is important and what is not important. If a sign cannot be read without the detail of two contact stars, then by all means, go ahead and write two contact stars..

But if a sign cannot be confused by taking one contact star away...then it is OK to drop the second contact star.

For example, in Denmark years ago they decided to only write contact stars when it is absolutely necessary....and since the sign for "Deaf" is oftentimes signed without any real contact to the face, and since the position of the hand makes it clear that the sign starts up higher and then touches down lower - we just accepted that spelling...

So the writing system is flexible....


SignWriting List
February 25, 2000



There are several ways to write movement of this kind. Each way has a different "feeling" to it. The first example in the question above is written well, if you need to specify the exact direction of each rotation.

In my examples number 1 and 2 above, I added an arrowhead on each end of the stem line to show "up and down" with fewer arrows - but each one of these symbols give slightly different information.

Usually, for daily writing of signs, the exact details of which hand rotates which direction first, is often not needed to understand the sign. So although my examples are not what you wanted, at least this gives you some idea of the variety and flexibility we have with our movement symbols....

For everyone's general information...

When there are groups of movement symbols like that...we read from the "center-out" and also if the group of symbols are stacked up and down, then we read from the "top-down" too.

So the two rules are:
1. Center to Out
2. Top to Bottom

Looking at the same attachment above, my number 1 shows "Shaking Movement". Shaking Movement does not state the exact details of which rotates first or second - it is just fast that would only be used if you didn't care to write the exact direction of rotation each time. It has a different feeling to it - it a relaxed shaking that is not specific.

My example number 2 shows that there are exactly two rotations for each arm, and that we know that the movement is going up and down, and what I wrote shows the arms rotating in opposite directions to each other - since I am reading the top rotation arrow first, and then the bottom one if the left symbol were flopped, then it might be more correct with what Stefan was writing...

The question is this....Would the sign be confused with another sign if you were less specific? If not then maybe the detail is not necessary...but on the other hand, you have written it accurately and I think that is great...


Questions? Write to:

Valerie Sutton