Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.
 

Written Form of American Sign Language (ASL)

Expand Messages
  • Arthaey Angosii
    Hey, everyone! Long time no email. :) (I ve just been busy with work and with life in general, nothing terribly exciting or bad going on.) Anyway, I ve started
    Message 1 of 14 , Mar 27, 2012
      Hey, everyone! Long time no email. :) (I've just been busy with work
      and with life in general, nothing terribly exciting or bad going on.)

      Anyway, I've started taking an ASL (American Sign Language) class and
      am really disappointed in all the various transcription systems that
      are out there. The most common failing is a lack of transcribing
      non-manual aspects of ASL, which are grammatically necessary. The
      second common failing is they they are more geared toward academic
      documentation, not toward a useful day-to-day writing system.

      I had been hopeful about the new kid on the block, si5s, but it seems
      lacking too (doesn't encode z axis of movement, doesn't encode palm
      orientation, etc).

      I asked on a Deaf forum about writing systems and was pretty
      thoroughly shot down as writing wasn't something Deaf people were
      interested in, encoding a spatial-visual language into a linear
      written space was impossible, and I was barking up the wrong tree.

      But for *myself*, I sure would like to be able to write myself notes
      about what I learn in my ASL class, make flashcards, etc. Plus my
      natural inclination toward conlangs and conscripts likes the challenge
      of trying to encode everything that's phonemic and necessary about ASL
      into a written form. Based on my conversations on that Deaf forum, I
      have no illusions that actual Deaf people and native signers of ASL
      will be interested in a written form of ASL, but then again, that's
      never stopped me from creating my conlangs even though no one is
      interested in speaking them.

      So. Are there any ASL signers here (Deaf or otherwise) that have done
      something like this already? Or who would be interested in giving me
      feedback if I end up working on my own conscript?


      --
      AA

      http://conlang.arthaey.com
    • Gary Shannon
      The most complete conscript writing system I ever worked out was one I devised while taking an ASL class for two semesters many years ago. With each new ASL
      Message 2 of 14 , Mar 27, 2012
        The most complete conscript writing system I ever worked out was one I
        devised while taking an ASL class for two semesters many years ago. With
        each new ASL sign I learned I invented a purely arbitrary glyph that had
        nothing whatsoever to do with the hand positions or motions of the sign. By
        the time I finished the two semesters I had just over 2,000 glyphs in my
        dictionary and I was regularly writing my daily journal and taking notes in
        classes using the system.

        It was all documented on file cards, and I hadn't used it for many years
        when it was all lost in a house fire. In the several decades since then I
        have two or three times tried to reconstruct the writing system, but I
        never got very far with it. The first time was fun. Trying to do it over
        again was too much like work.

        FWIW: Here's a thread from 2005 on the same subject:
        http://listserv.brown.edu/archives/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0502C&L=CONLANG&D=0&P=14820


        --gary

        On Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 6:06 PM, Arthaey Angosii <arthaey@...> wrote:

        > Hey, everyone! Long time no email. :) (I've just been busy with work
        > and with life in general, nothing terribly exciting or bad going on.)
        >
        > Anyway, I've started taking an ASL (American Sign Language) class and
        > am really disappointed in all the various transcription systems that
        > are out there. The most common failing is a lack of transcribing
        > non-manual aspects of ASL, which are grammatically necessary. The
        > second common failing is they they are more geared toward academic
        > documentation, not toward a useful day-to-day writing system.
        >
        > I had been hopeful about the new kid on the block, si5s, but it seems
        > lacking too (doesn't encode z axis of movement, doesn't encode palm
        > orientation, etc).
        >
        > I asked on a Deaf forum about writing systems and was pretty
        > thoroughly shot down as writing wasn't something Deaf people were
        > interested in, encoding a spatial-visual language into a linear
        > written space was impossible, and I was barking up the wrong tree.
        >
        > But for *myself*, I sure would like to be able to write myself notes
        > about what I learn in my ASL class, make flashcards, etc. Plus my
        > natural inclination toward conlangs and conscripts likes the challenge
        > of trying to encode everything that's phonemic and necessary about ASL
        > into a written form. Based on my conversations on that Deaf forum, I
        > have no illusions that actual Deaf people and native signers of ASL
        > will be interested in a written form of ASL, but then again, that's
        > never stopped me from creating my conlangs even though no one is
        > interested in speaking them.
        >
        > So. Are there any ASL signers here (Deaf or otherwise) that have done
        > something like this already? Or who would be interested in giving me
        > feedback if I end up working on my own conscript?
        >
        >
        > --
        > AA
        >
        > http://conlang.arthaey.com
        >
      • Arthaey Angosii
        ... Interesting idea, to completely abandon any attempt at having a phonetic system but go all-in for a ideographic one. I kinda want to try something that
        Message 3 of 14 , Mar 27, 2012
          On Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 6:35 PM, Gary Shannon <fiziwig@...> wrote:
          > The most complete conscript writing system I ever worked out was one I
          > devised while taking an ASL class for two semesters many years ago. With
          > each new ASL sign I learned I invented a purely arbitrary glyph that had
          > nothing whatsoever to do with the hand positions or motions of the sign. By
          > the time I finished the two semesters I had just over 2,000 glyphs in my
          > dictionary and I was regularly writing my daily journal and taking notes in
          > classes using the system.

          Interesting idea, to completely abandon any attempt at having a
          "phonetic" system but go all-in for a "ideographic" one.

          I kinda want to try something that gives readers* at least some amount
          of "sound it out"-ability. But I'll keep your example in the back of
          my mind if this proves too frustrating for me. :P

          *by which I mean, myself ;)

          > It was all documented on file cards, and I hadn't used it for many years
          > when it was all lost in a house fire. In the several decades since then I
          > have two or three times tried to reconstruct the writing system, but I
          > never got very far with it. The first time was fun. Trying to do it over
          > again was too much like work.

          Wow, that's very unfortunate. I know what you mean about how un-fun it
          can be to recreate work you've already done once.

          > FWIW: Here's a thread from 2005 on the same subject:
          > http://listserv.brown.edu/archives/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0502C&L=CONLANG&D=0&P=14820

          Thanks! I tried searching for "sign language"/ASL & writing/written,
          but that post didn't turn up.


          --
          AA

          --
          AA

          http://conlang.arthaey.com
        • MorphemeAddict
          What is evaluation of SLIPA? http://dedalvs.com/slipa.html I have long wanted a way to write ASL (and other sign languages). stevo
          Message 4 of 14 , Mar 27, 2012
            What is evaluation of SLIPA? http://dedalvs.com/slipa.html

            I have long wanted a way to write ASL (and other sign languages).

            stevo

            On Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 9:06 PM, Arthaey Angosii <arthaey@...> wrote:

            > Hey, everyone! Long time no email. :) (I've just been busy with work
            > and with life in general, nothing terribly exciting or bad going on.)
            >
            > Anyway, I've started taking an ASL (American Sign Language) class and
            > am really disappointed in all the various transcription systems that
            > are out there. The most common failing is a lack of transcribing
            > non-manual aspects of ASL, which are grammatically necessary. The
            > second common failing is they they are more geared toward academic
            > documentation, not toward a useful day-to-day writing system.
            >
            > I had been hopeful about the new kid on the block, si5s, but it seems
            > lacking too (doesn't encode z axis of movement, doesn't encode palm
            > orientation, etc).
            >
            > I asked on a Deaf forum about writing systems and was pretty
            > thoroughly shot down as writing wasn't something Deaf people were
            > interested in, encoding a spatial-visual language into a linear
            > written space was impossible, and I was barking up the wrong tree.
            >
            > But for *myself*, I sure would like to be able to write myself notes
            > about what I learn in my ASL class, make flashcards, etc. Plus my
            > natural inclination toward conlangs and conscripts likes the challenge
            > of trying to encode everything that's phonemic and necessary about ASL
            > into a written form. Based on my conversations on that Deaf forum, I
            > have no illusions that actual Deaf people and native signers of ASL
            > will be interested in a written form of ASL, but then again, that's
            > never stopped me from creating my conlangs even though no one is
            > interested in speaking them.
            >
            > So. Are there any ASL signers here (Deaf or otherwise) that have done
            > something like this already? Or who would be interested in giving me
            > feedback if I end up working on my own conscript?
            >
            >
            > --
            > AA
            >
            > http://conlang.arthaey.com
            >
          • Arthaey Angosii
            ... I haven t read all of David s SLIPA page — it s super detailed, which is great! but I haven t read through it yet. :P But I do see that David s goal was
            Message 5 of 14 , Mar 27, 2012
              On Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 7:08 PM, MorphemeAddict <lytlesw@...> wrote:
              > What is evaluation of SLIPA? http://dedalvs.com/slipa.html

              I haven't read all of David's SLIPA page — it's super detailed, which
              is great! but I haven't read through it yet. :P

              But I do see that David's goal was to make an sign-equivalent of IPA
              (hence the name). As he writes himself, "[SLIPA is] primarily intended
              for transcription. I don't think SLIPA is a good orthography or
              romanization for a signed language, just like I don't think the IPA is
              a good orthography for any spoken language."

              Another of SLIPA's goals was ASCII-compatibility, which is important
              for his stated goal of having a way for conlangers to discuss
              consignlangs over the listserv, which tends to get hungry and eat
              non-ASCII characters from time to time. I'm wanting to use (or design)
              something that looks like a naturalistic writing system, and I'm
              willing to let it be fontless/handwritten-only (at first).

              My next task is to read through David's page, though, because I'm sure
              I'll learn a lot about what needs to be supported...


              --
              AA

              --
              AA

              http://conlang.arthaey.com
            • MorphemeAddict
              I look forward to reading what you come up with. stevo
              Message 6 of 14 , Mar 27, 2012
                I look forward to reading what you come up with.

                stevo

                On Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 10:43 PM, Arthaey Angosii <arthaey@...> wrote:

                > On Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 7:08 PM, MorphemeAddict <lytlesw@...> wrote:
                > > What is evaluation of SLIPA? http://dedalvs.com/slipa.html
                >
                > I haven't read all of David's SLIPA page — it's super detailed, which
                > is great! but I haven't read through it yet. :P
                >
                > But I do see that David's goal was to make an sign-equivalent of IPA
                > (hence the name). As he writes himself, "[SLIPA is] primarily intended
                > for transcription. I don't think SLIPA is a good orthography or
                > romanization for a signed language, just like I don't think the IPA is
                > a good orthography for any spoken language."
                >
                > Another of SLIPA's goals was ASCII-compatibility, which is important
                > for his stated goal of having a way for conlangers to discuss
                > consignlangs over the listserv, which tends to get hungry and eat
                > non-ASCII characters from time to time. I'm wanting to use (or design)
                > something that looks like a naturalistic writing system, and I'm
                > willing to let it be fontless/handwritten-only (at first).
                >
                > My next task is to read through David's page, though, because I'm sure
                > I'll learn a lot about what needs to be supported...
                >
                >
                > --
                > AA
                >
                > --
                > AA
                >
                > http://conlang.arthaey.com
                >
              • Arthaey Angosii
                Even though I m not sure I like Sutton SignWriting, it does seem like the only writing system that has actual ASL users. In looking for information on written
                Message 7 of 14 , Mar 27, 2012
                  Even though I'm not sure I like Sutton SignWriting, it does seem like
                  the only writing system that has actual ASL users. In looking for
                  information on written sign language, I stumbled across this blog
                  written in ASL! Maybe I should give SignWriting another look...

                  http://frostvillage.com/blog/lang/ase/

                  Just thought you guys following this thread might find the blog cool. :)



                  --
                  AA
                • Michael Everson
                  ... See http://signwriting.org Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com/
                  Message 8 of 14 , Mar 28, 2012
                    On 28 Mar 2012, at 02:06, Arthaey Angosii wrote:

                    > But for *myself*, I sure would like to be able to write myself notes about what I learn in my ASL class, make flashcards, etc.

                    See http://signwriting.org

                    Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com/
                  • David Peterson
                    ... First, let me say that I feel your pain. I felt EXACTLY the same thing when I was taking ASL. I mean, when you take any language, you want to take notes
                    Message 9 of 14 , Mar 28, 2012
                      On Mar 27, 2012, at 6:06 PM, Arthaey Angosii wrote:

                      > But for *myself*, I sure would like to be able to write myself notes
                      > about what I learn in my ASL class, make flashcards, etc.

                      First, let me say that I feel your pain. I felt EXACTLY the same thing when I was taking ASL. I mean, when you take any language, you want to take notes and look at what you wrote later and practice—and you just can't do it! It was a powerless feeling at first, because when you get home, you feel like there's really nothing you can do: you just have to wait for the next class.

                      In class, I started a writing system that used simplified body pictures (all based on triangles) where I tried to sketch out the signs. I'd have a named handshape up in the corner if I needed it, and would draw in the eyebrows. Eventually, though, this became too cumbersome and I gave it up. This had the benefit, though, of forcing me to kick lazy memory into gear, and I really felt that I remembered a lot more from my ASL classes than I did from my other language classes.

                      And to another comment regarding SLIPA, Arthaey's reply was spot on:

                      On Mar 27, 2012, at 7:43 PM, Arthaey Angosii wrote:

                      > But I do see that David's goal was to make an sign-equivalent of IPA
                      > (hence the name). As he writes himself, "[SLIPA is] primarily intended
                      > for transcription. I don't think SLIPA is a good orthography or
                      > romanization for a signed language, just like I don't think the IPA is
                      > a good orthography for any spoken language."


                      At the end, I tried to suggest a way you could use SLIPA to then devise a romanization system for a simpler sign language. I don't think the examples I give would cover ASL—or any other natural sign language, for that matter: the movements don't fall into categories that are that neat.

                      Ultimately I think what would work best is, basically, employing two or three different systems simultaneously, much like Japanese or Middle Egyptian. There are a series of signs in ASL that can be spelled phonetically and convey everything you need to know about the sign—especially those signs that simply involve a hand shape and movement from one place to another (you can pretty much ignore the movement in such cases). For that, some kind of an alphabet-like system would work. For those that it doesn't work for, it'd be best to employ a different system.

                      For certain signs, I think either a Chinese-like glyph system or a Egyptian-inspired system would work best. Each will have advantages and disadvantages. With a Chinese system, you can imagine taking a SLIPA description, making symbols of the various bits and adding a semantic component, and then you could start building three- or four-part glyphs that will stand for whole signs. So for a verb like CHANGE, you could have these four parts:

                      1 - X handshape
                      2 - 2 hands
                      3 - Verb
                      4 - transfer

                      Or maybe place in place of 2 hands, or something. Each of those would have a picture associated with it, and you'd draw it in a box, like a Chinese character:

                      1 2
                      3 4

                      This wouldn't tell you exactly how to form the sign, but it would give you a lot of information about it—perhaps enough to recall it to memory, which is the point, in this case. This, I think, would really well for certain types of jargon. Consider the various scientific vocabulary (I learned linguistics specific vocabulary that might not be as common, just as a caveat): SCIENCE, BIOLOGY, MORPHOLOGY. All of these are formed the same way: you make each of your hands into the handshape of the first letter, and your hands do kind of an infinity sign in front of your body, like an old reel-to-reel tape deck. For such signs, you could do this:

                      1 - S/B/M handshape
                      2 - 2 hands
                      3 - Noun
                      4 - science

                      Now imagine that you were actually reading someone else's writing. You knew their background was in linguistics, and you saw this same glyph written but with a P for the handshape. This would lead you to the conclusion that they're talking about phonology (or maybe phonetics, depending on context)—and not only that, you'd know how to make the sign.

                      This approach, again, takes a lot of the precision of movement and orientation out of the equation, but it might do the trick.

                      Now for the Egyptian method, you could stick with part 4, which would be your determinative (like in Egyptian). The rest would be characters for handshapes—in sequences—and perhaps special glyphs denoting very short types of movements, and also places. There would be less precision, but you'd have a linear sequence, and hopefully enough information there that that plus the determinative would help you arrive at the sign.

                      Those are just a couple ideas. I'd be eager to see what system you come up with! Personally, though, I'd leave eyebrows and facial expressions out of it. Mouth shape will often be a part of a sign, but it's rarely contrastive (i.e. sign with lips in neutral position = X, sign with lips drawn back = Y [and a totally unrelated Y at that]), and I think our English punctuation system encodes eyebrows, etc. about as well as it encodes intonation in English—i.e. not at all, but we manage, anyway.

                      David Peterson
                      LCS President
                      president@...
                      www.conlang.org
                    • Adam Walker
                      Sutton s Sign Writing is being used in practical daily-life applications for several signed languages already. ASL users continue to reject SW partly on
                      Message 10 of 14 , Mar 28, 2012
                        Sutton's Sign Writing is being used in practical daily-life applications
                        for several signed languages already. ASL users continue to reject SW
                        partly on political grounds. (It was invented by a hearing person.) But
                        Catalan Sign Language is producing magazines in SW as well as educational
                        materials, etc. IIRC Nicaraguan Sign Language was the first to adopt SW as
                        its written medium, and I believe there are quite a number of others that
                        are now using it. The trend toward using SW will likely continue since it
                        is the writing system of choice for signed languages among Wycliffe and
                        Wycliffe associated Bible translation teams and literacy projects, though a
                        number of those projects are opting for non-written translations using
                        video or computer generated graphics. Still it seems likely that a great
                        many Third-world signed languages will come to be written using SW while
                        ASL remains, essentially, an unwritten language, though I do know ASL users
                        who are actively using SW.

                        One of the drawbacks of using SW is no unicode support, at least not that I
                        am aware of.

                        Adam

                        On Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 8:06 PM, Arthaey Angosii <arthaey@...> wrote:

                        > Hey, everyone! Long time no email. :) (I've just been busy with work
                        > and with life in general, nothing terribly exciting or bad going on.)
                        >
                        > Anyway, I've started taking an ASL (American Sign Language) class and
                        > am really disappointed in all the various transcription systems that
                        > are out there. The most common failing is a lack of transcribing
                        > non-manual aspects of ASL, which are grammatically necessary. The
                        > second common failing is they they are more geared toward academic
                        > documentation, not toward a useful day-to-day writing system.
                        >
                        > I had been hopeful about the new kid on the block, si5s, but it seems
                        > lacking too (doesn't encode z axis of movement, doesn't encode palm
                        > orientation, etc).
                        >
                        > I asked on a Deaf forum about writing systems and was pretty
                        > thoroughly shot down as writing wasn't something Deaf people were
                        > interested in, encoding a spatial-visual language into a linear
                        > written space was impossible, and I was barking up the wrong tree.
                        >
                        > But for *myself*, I sure would like to be able to write myself notes
                        > about what I learn in my ASL class, make flashcards, etc. Plus my
                        > natural inclination toward conlangs and conscripts likes the challenge
                        > of trying to encode everything that's phonemic and necessary about ASL
                        > into a written form. Based on my conversations on that Deaf forum, I
                        > have no illusions that actual Deaf people and native signers of ASL
                        > will be interested in a written form of ASL, but then again, that's
                        > never stopped me from creating my conlangs even though no one is
                        > interested in speaking them.
                        >
                        > So. Are there any ASL signers here (Deaf or otherwise) that have done
                        > something like this already? Or who would be interested in giving me
                        > feedback if I end up working on my own conscript?
                        >
                        >
                        > --
                        > AA
                        >
                        > http://conlang.arthaey.com
                        >
                      • Michael Everson
                        ... Some ASL users , please. Many ASL users do not reject it, and there have been PhD theses at Gallaudet dealing with it, and I know one native ASL speaker
                        Message 11 of 14 , Mar 28, 2012
                          On 28 Mar 2012, at 15:46, Adam Walker wrote:

                          > ASL users continue to reject SW partly on political grounds.

                          "Some ASL users", please. Many ASL users do not reject it, and there have been PhD theses at Gallaudet dealing with it, and I know one native ASL speaker who is Deaf who is a user and is working with me and others to encode SW in the Universal Character Set.

                          > (It was invented by a hearing person.)

                          A hearing person who speaks ASL, and who has good relations with Deaf users of many languages all over the world.

                          Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com/
                        • Adam Walker
                          If you read my whole message, I mentioned at then end that I also know Deaf ASL users who use and/or promote SW, but there IS significant resistance to the
                          Message 12 of 14 , Mar 28, 2012
                            If you read my whole message, I mentioned at then end that I also know Deaf
                            ASL users who use and/or promote SW, but there IS significant resistance to
                            the idea, much of it politically motivated. Witness the original poster's
                            reception when he asked about writting systems for ASL on ASL fora. Yes,
                            she does. And she's avery nice persom. I haven't met her in person, but I
                            have corresponded with Valery a bit, have contributed to her Sign Puddle
                            website and have her as a friend on Facebook. Valery's system is MY system
                            of choice. I find it fully adequate for writing signed languages. It
                            encodes at least as much of what is happening in ASL and other SLs as the
                            various systems in use do for spoken languages. But that doesn't mean
                            there aren't voiciferous opponents.

                            And as far as "some" vs. "most/many" what have you. I would wager that
                            "most" ASL users have never even tried SW and whatever opinions they do or
                            do not have about the system are based on hearsay and/or absence of
                            information. Practically every Deaf person I have known who has actual
                            experience with SW is in someway involved in the linguistics community, ie
                            not typical people of ANY language community.

                            Adam

                            On Wed, Mar 28, 2012 at 10:24 AM, Michael Everson <everson@...>wrote:

                            > On 28 Mar 2012, at 15:46, Adam Walker wrote:
                            >
                            > > ASL users continue to reject SW partly on political grounds.
                            >
                            > "Some ASL users", please. Many ASL users do not reject it, and there have
                            > been PhD theses at Gallaudet dealing with it, and I know one native ASL
                            > speaker who is Deaf who is a user and is working with me and others to
                            > encode SW in the Universal Character Set.
                            >
                            > > (It was invented by a hearing person.)
                            >
                            > A hearing person who speaks ASL, and who has good relations with Deaf
                            > users of many languages all over the world.
                            >
                            > Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com/
                            >
                          • Adam Walker
                            ... That wouldn t happen to be Stuart Thiessen, the linguist and all-around techie, would it? He s a very nice man and it seems like just the sort of project
                            Message 13 of 14 , Mar 28, 2012
                              On Wed, Mar 28, 2012 at 10:24 AM, Michael Everson <everson@...>wrote:

                              > On 28 Mar 2012, at 15:46, Adam Walker wrote:
                              >
                              > and I know one native ASL speaker who is Deaf who is a user and is
                              > working with me and others to encode SW in the Universal Character Set.
                              >

                              That wouldn't happen to be Stuart Thiessen, the linguist and all-around
                              techie, would it? He's a very nice man and it seems like just the sort of
                              project he would be involved with.

                              Adam
                            • Michael Everson
                              ... Yes, it s Stuart. Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com/
                              Message 14 of 14 , Mar 28, 2012
                                On 28 Mar 2012, at 20:20, Adam Walker wrote:

                                >> and I know one native ASL speaker who is Deaf who is a user and is working with me and others to encode SW in the Universal Character Set.
                                >
                                > That wouldn't happen to be Stuart Thiessen, the linguist and all-around techie, would it? He's a very nice man and it seems like just the sort of project he would be involved with.

                                Yes, it's Stuart.

                                Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com/
                              Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.