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American Sign Language: "sign writing"


The following is an example of signwriting by Kimberly Shaw.*


X: "APPLE" [Edit: Changed the "A" handshape
to instead use an X handshape ]

B:CL "table"
C:CL "set-on"
D "worm"
E "munch, munch!"
F "hole"
G "worm sticks head out"
H "sit"
I "ink"
J "drafting/drawing"
K "using a geometric compass to draw a circle"
L "lunch"
M "Monday"
N "No!"
O "hole in apple"
P "kill!"
Q "grab worm, pull from apple, hold over paper shredder"
R "Ready?" [Asks worm if it is ready to be shredded]
S "Save me!" [worm yells for help]
T "Try, try" [worm tries and tries to get free]
U "Tie gets caught in paper shredder"
V "Stuck"
W "pulls out of shredder upside down W -mangled tie"
X "worm crawls away"
Y "Now"
Z "Where?" [looking for worm]


Notes from Bill Vicars:
The above story included too much Signed English to be appropriate for an ASL class. 
I started to repair the story.
What do I mean by "repair" the story?  Mainly just swapping out various "initialized" signs and using ASL versions.
For example, the first sign used a Signed English version of "apple" using an "A" handshape. (Instead of the traditional cocked-X handshape used by ASL for the sign APPLE). 
So I edited the first sign in the graphic above to show an X handshape instead of an A handshape.
The general signwriting symbol for an A handshape looks like this:

The X handshape looks like this:

You can see in the story the X handshape being used for Apple.


As I looked over the rest of the story I could see that it would take a lot more changes to turn it into an ASL ABC story and simply wasn't a good use of my time. So I decided to just post it for what it was, an interesting example of signwriting (but NOT recommended as an ABC story).


Additional notes:


The original version of the story in SignWriting by Kimberley Shaw is (or at least was) available printed and bound in book form along with a few other stories. She used to sell it (many years ago) for a reasonable sum. To see if it is still for sale, you can email her at:
See below for more details:

In a message dated 1/25/2006 7:43:30 AM Pacific Standard Time, writes:
Hello Bill:
I have some congratulations to share with you ... a friend pointed out to
me the other day, that if you go to Google, hit the "images" link, and
then put "signwriting" as a search term, "ABC Apple" shows right up --
courtesy of your useful and knowledgeable site! Thought you would enjoy
this visibility, too.
And ...
Would you please update the information that appears at the top of the
ABC-Apple-in-SW page, though?
The ASL anthology which I'm working on has progressed -- and is very
nearly ready for self-publication! It has more couple more pieces in it
now, and the price for it unfortunately will *not* be $5. However, if
people want a copy of ABC Apple all by itself as a nicely bound booklet,
*that* will be $5!
The anthology contains 9 very different pieces by different authors; its
price has not yet been set. All of them are in ASL written with
SignWriting, with *no* English glossing, translations, or transcriptions!
SW is such a good way to get immersed in ASL when not with signing
buddies, and I hope that some of your "ASL U" students decide to go  learn
it and try it out. Don't forget to check out the now-4000-entry  ASL
dictionary at -- a little bigger now,
than the last time I wrote to you!
Kimberley Shaw

Also see: ELiS

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