Re: SignWriting

From: Philippe Verdy <>
Date: Mon, 22 Apr 2013 01:43:02 +0200

2013/4/22 Stephan Stiller <>

> SignWriting is also difficult to write.
> Not necessarily more than those that learn writing Chinese.
> Learning how to write Chinese is difficult. It "only" takes like 6.5 years
> of schooling, and when students go abroad for college, they quickly forget
> how to write many characters. In fact, *within* China, I'd say nearly
> everyone including civil servants dealing with registration matters (!)
> whom I've ever asked to and seen write down a sentence or a bunch of
> expressions for me stumbled or scribbled outlines for certain characters or
> got components wrong in a way that didn't look like they were just
> abbreviating. I'm not exaggerating.
> It appears difficult to those that don't know sign languages. But for
> the others, yes it requires training, just like those that learn to read
> and write any oral language of the world (we call this ability
> "li[t]eracy").
> Do you think the shapes are amenable to fast writing by pen?

Sing-Writung has both a normative form, to be generated by computer
programs, and a handwriting form allowing more freedom. It has been
developed using signs that are not so complicate to reproduce in a
meaningful way.

But if we keep the comparison with Chinese, the same phenomena appears.
There are various forms, more or less deviating from the standard form.

Plus an extra knowledge masterized by experts, perceived as artists. This
art is called calligraphy, and calligraphy exists for all writing systems.
It is particluarly developed as an art by writers of Chinese and Arabic. It
was more important in the past for the Latin/Cyrillic/Greek alphabetic
family of script but it has not completely disappeared and it is still used
for the production of corporate logos, advertizing, and identifiation of
products and trademarks, so I would not say that calligraphy is dead in the
alphabetic script. Calligraphy is still considered bery important in Indic
abugidas as well (notably for transcriptions of religious texts, e.g. in
the Tibetan script)
Received on Sun Apr 21 2013 - 18:46:46 CDT

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