Wednesday, July 14, 2010

making a speakable version of Stokoe's notation via Visemese

D: I just finished a book called "The Linguistics of American Sign Language" by Isenhath.
It was an easy read which was not too heavy on theory.
It outlines the premise that Stokoe used, that there are 5 aspects to each ASL sign.
The devil is in the details, of course.
Some unusual signs use full-head movement.
The speed of the sign also carries meaning.


Aside on sci-fi story language project.

The key lesson I learned was that one can remove the 'filler words' in English - really function words- and still carry on a meaningful conversation when context is already provided on the subject.

I applied this to my sci-fi story English creole which uses musical quarter-pitch notes to convey English function words.
ASL typically does not bother to include definite / indefinite articles such as a or the.
By paring away articles, I finally have enough quarter-pitch-note meaning slots to completely supplant common English function words.
The sentence "Dog bite boy" uses quarter-pitch-notes to convey all additional information.


Anyway, I thought cross-mapping Stokoe's notation onto syllables in Visemese that can be pronounced could be interesting.
Every sign typically contains a wealth of steps required to form it properly. ASL shies away from forming compound words in the same fashion as English, since 2 signs consecutively take quite a lot of time to do.
Instead, it tends to incorporate details into a single sign, such as replacing a natural hand position with a letter sign to change the meaning. It also heavily truncates 2 signs, resembling spoken language agglutination.

I remain intrigued by the prospect of a truly international spoken-sign system.
Sadly, we have recreated the national and regional boundaries of spoken languages with proprietary sign languages.

I have noted in the past that Decimese can be modified to interface with my lip-readable Visemese scheme.

I suspect Stokoe's notation will take too long to say since there are so few phonemes available to Visemese.
Various 'cheats' such as vowel gemination could be used. However, as always, Speedtalk-esque gemination has the problem that it then takes longer to say. This does not seem to be worthwhile to pursue.

An interesting approach to compressing Stokoe's notation would be to include facial expressions as a meaning-unit.

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