summary on sign language notation systems

Date: Fri Mar 02 2001 - 09:48:49 EST


----- Forwarded by Peter Constable/IntlAdmin/WCT on 03/02/2001 08:50 AM

Hi all. I thought that you might be interested. These two messages were
recently posted on the Sign Language Linguistics List.


-------------Forwarded Message-----------------

From: "For the discussion of linguistics and signed languages.",

Date: 23-02-01 01:34 a.m.

RE: summary on notation systems


I am Brigitta Horvath with the question on notation systems from last
week. Thanks for the great number of replies, they were really useful
for us.
Based on your remarks, for me it seems that most of you use a notation
systems either HamNoSys, SignFont, Stokoe's system (alonf with Mandel
Marks's ASCII system), the sytsem presented in the Dictionary of
British Sign Language or SignWriting, or an altered one according to
special needs.

I found out that there are not serious problems with the iconic symbols
while exchanging data on the net (earlier I had thought so).
Most of you who reacted on my question were quite satisfied with the
certain system, I got especially good remarks on HamNoSys.
If any of you are more interested in the details I can offer my help as
I have done a sort of research on the topic, or may visit the following

It was developed by Valerie Sutton in the 70's and its primary aim is to
provide a tool for everyday written communication. Can be used with any
sign language. Highly iconic, the fonts can be downloaded, whole
packages can be purchased. Very popular among deaf people but it is not
easy to invent new symbols.

Mark Mandel's system (ASCII-Stokoe for ASL):
This alfanumerical system is based on Stokoe's but makes it easy to
computerize our data. Useful and quite easy to learn system.

Both HamNoSys and SignFont are highly iconic but the fonts can be
downloaded for both. They are extensible and can be used with any sign
language. There are already some software available based on these
systems (e.g. SyncWriter for HamNoSys).

Database-oriented (not written, exactly) representation. (From Angus B.

Or you can observe the system presented in the dictionary of BSL/English
(Brien, D., Brennan, M. (1992) Dictionary of British Sign
Language/English. Faber and Faber Ltd., London).

Most of the systems are the derivates of Stokoe's system which you all
know, I believe.

I hope that no important system is left out but if so, please let me
know! I think we are able to decide on one now but I am diplomatic :)

Many thanks,

Brigitta Horvath
PhD student, University of Pécs
ass. teacher at the University of Veszprém, Dep. of. Appl. Linguistics
address: H-8200, 3, Egyetem Str., Veszprém, Hungary
Fax: 00-36-88-406-360
Tel.: 00-36-30-251-01-76


From: "For the discussion of linguistics and signed languages.",

Date: 24-02-01 06:08 p.m.

RE: Berkeley Transciption System (BTS) for signed languages

Here is another option for transcribing sign language data--at the levels
of meaning components, signs, nonmanuals, and utterances:

The Berkeley Transcription System (BTS) is designed for computer-based
transcription and analysis of sign language discourse, following the
guidelines of CHILDES (Child Language Data Exchange System).
Transcription is at the level of meaning components, both manual and
nonmanual, using ASCII characters. The format is consistent with CHAT,
allowing for analysis using CLAN programs. BTS has been developed on the
basis of videotapes of adult-child interaction in American Sign Language
and Sign Language of the Netherlands, in consultation with native signers,
linguists, and psycholinguists, and with support from the National Science
Foundation. Dutch and German versions are also available. There is a
website for BTS: The BTS Manual can be
found there, as well as on the CHILDES website: http://childes/
(look under the CHAT heading, for either Mac or Windows; BTS is Chapter 11
of the CHAT Manual). We will be happy to send the current BTS Manual, as
well as an article describing the rationale of BTS (to be published by the
journal Sign Language & Linguistics). Please e-mail a request to Amy
Weinberg: We look forward to international
collaboration in improving the system and applying it to new research
projects and sign languages.

Dan Slobin
University of California, Berkeley

Nini Hoiting
Royal Institute for the Deaf "H. D. Guyot"
Haren, The Netherlands

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Tue Jul 10 2001 - 17:21:20 EDT