Re: How to spell a gesture
|From:||Gary Shannon <fiziwig@...>|
|Date:||Saturday, February 19, 2005, 7:01|
> Actually they do try to duplicate the
> gesture. The problem is that the
> gestures in sign language are a lot
> more complicated than "palm taps palm,
> then palm taps chest".
What's worse is that if this were a well
developed only language in a non-vocal alien
culture there would be even more subtle
nuances to each movement. Touching the end
of the nose might mean something quite different
if the contact point were slightly left of
center, for example. This would require that
the system be even more complex.
For a simple "toy" conlang, however, all
this could be simplified a great deal.
I visited your site earlier to day when Sai
posted the link. It looks a great deal more
sophisticated than what I had in mind for my
"toy" conlang. But it's also full of great
ideas. It's intersting to see how others
have approached the problem as well. I have
no real expertise in linguistics and my only
knowledge of ASL comes from two semesters I
took while working as a vocational trainer
with deaf teens about 10 years ago. I haven't
used it at all in at least 8 years.
Here's and example of how hands positions and motions
might be classsified prior to encoding them
I. Symbols representing hand shape
> It seems to be a theme this year that someone
> posts about something just before I've gotten
> ready to post about it. Oh well.
> As Sai said, over the past month I have been
> developing what I'm calling Sign Language IPA
> (SLIPA). I based it on my knowledge of ASL,
> and other sign languages, but also largely upon
> linguistic studies of the phonology of ASL,
> in particular by David Perlmutter here at UCSD.
> The site is here:
> Snip the rest. I think you'll find that if you
> go this root, you'll end up with signs that are
> just impossibly long and hard to read.
> What you'll end up with, in fact, is an ASCII
> version of HamNoSys.
Since I'm not planing to use this system to transcribe
any existing sign system, what I sort of had in mind
was very short gestures and an extensive set of
"default rules" such that if, for example, the symbol
for "palm-to-palm" is written it is assumed that the
fingers point up with the heal of the hand toward the
listener unless it is otherwise stated. In this way
for most signs very few specifics need to be
Actually they do try to duplicate the gesture.
The problem is that the gestures in sign language
are a lot more complicated than "palm taps palm,
then palm taps chest".
> Very true. There's a lot of detail, some of which
> is important, some of which isn't.
What's good about designing a gestural conlang from
scratch is that I can decide which details are
important and leave off any transcription for details
that don't matter. For example, rather than
identifying the 29 locations on the face in your
system I might be content with "forehead, nose, mouth,
cheek, chin". Since I don't have to
transcribe existing systems I can afford to simplify
to a greater extent.
> It's kind of
> like saying that five different languages have a
> word that can be narrowly transcribed as ['e.ge].
> I guarantee that this word will sound different
> in all five languages. If a sign language
> transcription system is going to work, there has
> to be some standards that can be further modified.
> So, for example, in a *good* grammar, a field worker
> will say, for example, "Language X has the vowels
> [a], [i] and [u], *but* [a] is slightly more central
> in unstressed contexts; [i] is closer to English[I],
> but not quite so far forward; [u] tends to be the
> longest of the vowels, and can often be as low as
> [o]", etc.
Imagine that! I foolishly thought that a thread about
a silent, written-only language would never make it
possible to say anything about pronunciation. ;-)
> However, the task seems more formidable since people
> are, in general, more unfamiliar with signlanguages,
> if at all.
> Anyway, this has been a project which has taken much
> of my time for the past month or so (to thedetriment
> of my schoolwork). Hopefully it can be helpful.
Thank you. I'm finding it very interesting. Although
it is far more complex than anything I would attempt,
it is full of neat ideas that I can learn something