Thursday, May 17, 2007


Over the last month I have become interested in SignWriting. It is a fascinating subject for someone who is passionate about dictionaries. Given that OmegaWiki aims to include all words of all languages, it had bugged me for a long time how to include sign languages as well as written languages.

SignWriting is a recognised script, ISO-15924 Sgnw. It is only recently that it became possible to write a sign language grammatically correct using computer programs. It is written from top to bottom and it does not have its characters included in Unicode. There are some 30.000 characters at the moment and they are being converted from a bitmap into SVG.

I have been watching an instruction video on SignWriting, I have watched a video of some kids singing in sign language. When you see these people sign, I cannot even distinguish the individual signs, it goes way to quick for me. It is quite something, it makes me realise that I am dumb when it comes to signing and illiterate when it comes to writing sign languages. My redeeming quality would be that I am willing to be informed about it.

As the aim of OmegaWiki is to include all languages and as sign languages are as relevant as any other, I hope that the signing communities and particularly the SignWriting community will work with me to achieve this goal. Along this road there is the Unicode challenge and the challenge to get MediaWiki to support SignWriting.

This is likely to happen as SignWriting fulfils its promise and becomes the universally accepted script for sign languages.



MovGP0 said...

ASL seems to take much space, so I think it would be a good idea to place it in a div-Element below the other translations. I think that these should only shown if the user chooses it as language in preferences, because pictures can generate a lot of traffic.

The bigger problems seems about how to create and manage over 40.000 Signs. ASL seems to consists only of a few primitives, so it might be a good idea to encode this primitives into ASCII and let the pictures create dynamically using a generator.

MovGP0 said...

This might be help:
ASCII Stokoe Notation of ASL

MovGP0 said...

For starting with ASL it migh be a good idea to begin with baby steps. ie. coding Baby-Signs into ASL:
Video Dictionary of Signs for Babies