How to spell a gesture
|From:||Gary Shannon <fiziwig@...>|
|Date:||Friday, February 18, 2005, 21:26|
Imagine an alien species that had no hearing or speech
aparatus and who developed a language of physical
gestures, like sign language for the deaf, to
communicate. It seems that their written language
might consist of an "alphabet" of object and motion
elements strung together to "spell out" a particular
Here are some sample spellings:
Hand (fingers spread) moves up to the right.
Fist, forefinger touches head.
Fist, forefinger points down, slides to the right.
Hand, fingers spread, thumb touches chest.
Fist strikes (down) on other (open) palm.
Two fists strike together (horizontally).
Fist, two fingers tap downward twice on other (open)
Open hand, thumb tap downward once on back of other
With open hand, close fingers flat and move to touch
With open hand, make fist and twist.
When reading, these aliens would not hear the words in
their mind's ear, but see the gestures in their mind's
There are fonts for ASL finger spelling, which are
just pictures of the hand positions, but these don't
function at all like what I have in mind, since they
are really just an alternate alphabet for spoken
English. To begin with this culture might draw
similar pictures of a person making the gestures, but
in time it would seem the set of symbols might become
standardized and simplified so that instead of having
thousands of gesture pictures they would have a few
dozen gesture "letters" to spell each gesture with.
Now the interesting question: Assuming a humanoid
race with two hands of four fingers and opposable
thumb, one head, two eyes (no ears) and some kind of
breathing and eating openings in the front of the
head, what would such an "alphabet" (or "symbolary" or
"gesturary") look like?
What I thought I might do to begin with is work out a
"symbolary" for American Sign Language and then see if
it is universal enough to spell out gestures in
German, Russian or British sign language. If that
works I could use it as a basis for a silent, gestural
AT LAST! A conlang that will NEVER be responsible for
starting YAPT!!! ;-)