Re: Writing a proposal for an unusual script: SignWriting

From: Stephen Slevinski (
Date: Mon Jun 14 2010 - 17:36:18 CDT

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    Thanks for the great discussion. A lot to think about, a lot to learn,
    and a lot to do.

    Just to clear up a few points.

    There are no issues with SignWriting and IP or copyright. The term
    SignWriting is trademarked, but the writing system is meant to be used
    without restriction. The symbols are available under the open font
    license. If that is not enough, Valerie Sutton has made several public
    statements that cover this issue. The standards documents are all
    available under creative commons, by-sa. If anyone feels the issue is
    not resolved, we're willing to take whatever steps to resolve the doubts.

    Regarding plain text, I was using it in a very loose sense. Personally,
    I use the term "sign text". As characters, I encoded only those needed
    to represent sign language as a readable script. I didn't include extra
    formatting or structures. This is the minimum set of characters
    required to produce a readable script. Any less and you could not
    represent SignWriting as character data.

    Regarding the community of users... There are many who write by hand.
    I believe this is the largest community, but I have no solid numbers.

    Our online community (SignPuddle Online), started 6 years ago. We set
    up dictionaries for the various international sign languages. The top
    14 dictionaries range from 1,000 to 10,000 sign entires. The next 14
    have a few hundred. Several dozen only have a handful of signs.

    I believe the script is stabilized. In 2004, we were using the
    International MovementWriting Alphabet. We learned a lot in 3 years of
    use. In 2008, we did a major refactoring of the symbol set to focus on
    sign language only. We've happily used the 2008 symbol set for 2
    years. About a month ago, we discussed several small issues. We
    decided for one last minimal refactor before standardization. That
    refactor has been completed as the International SignWriting Alphabet 2010.

    I will be very happy if we are able to encode the symbol set in
    Unicode. Encoding the characters needed for the script layout would be
    nice, but one step at a time.


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