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Typannot: a glyphic system for the transcription of handshapes

Typannot: un système de glyphes pour transcrire les formes manuelles

Typannot: un sistema di glifi per la trascrizione delle forme manuali


Existing writing systems for SL (SignWriting [Sutton, 1974]; HamNoSys [Prillwitz et al., 1989]) have seldom taken into account the results of the phonology of SL. Yet, the diversity of phonological approaches and the scope of the results, especially for handshapes, are very rich and may cover many languages (Johnson & Liddell, 2011; Ann, 2005; Eccarius & Brentari, 2008). In the context of SL study, three distinct functions can mainly define a writing system: the readibility, the writability and the searchability. None of the existing systems offers a good compromise. In this work, we present the construction of a graphematic system able to cover all SL handshapes existing in the world, consisting of features based on a phonological description (Eccarius & Brentari, 2008). This multidisciplinary project, summoning linguists and type designers, aims at producing a readable and stable, unambiguous and fully searchable glyphic system that provides a relevant solution for the transcription of SL and for a forthcoming writing. The graphematic and the glyphic systems (237 glyphs) are modular and adaptable to new configurations as needed, potentially including all the 120 SLs found in the world. The conception of the glyphs was equally guided by the highlighted phonological/phonetical features (graphematic system) and the graphical and scriptural rules (glyph formula) (Bringhurst, 2004; Billeter, 2010). We consider that the phonetics for handshapes is praxis: beside a linguistic use, phonetic doesn’t exist for signs apart from the manual activities. The influence of the gestural praxis on the symbolic gestures is investigated here (connection between phonology and phonetics). What roles do the handshapes of prehension play (Napier, 1956) on SL handshapes (Marzke, 1986)? The distribution of the selection of the fingers, the independence of each finger, and the behavior of each phalanx have been studied. The results challenge the ideas developped by Ann (2005) in favour of Napier’s hypothesis of power and precise grips. This analysis suggests an influence of phonetics on the phonology of the handshapes. These features helped designing the shapes and the graphematic system we use, and on which we build the glyph formula. Following this work, and according to the phonological graphematic description of handshapes by Eccarius & Brentari (2008), a modular graphic system based on phonological key components was devised. This approach allowed an economical and visual, yet rigorous, design process. These glyphs have been tested during a protocol leading to a recognition task (52 subjects) and a compositional task (6 subjects). The results underlined the need to follow logical construction rules using limited numbers of compounds (Version 2), as opposed to more customized shapes for each configuration (V1). After this first phase we are organizing and encoding the glyphs in order for them to be fully searchable through the Unicode standard. Bibliography: −Ann, Jean. “A functional explanation of Taiwan Sign Language handshape frequency”. Language and Linguistics (Taipei) 6, no 2 (2005): 217. −Billeter, Jean François. Essai sur l’art chinois de l’écriture et ses fondements, Paris, Allia,‎ 2010, 416 p. −Bringshurst, Robert. The solid form of language: an essay on writing and meaning. 2004, Gaspereau. −Eccarius, Petra, and Brentari, Diane. “Handshape coding made easier: a theoretically based notation for phonological transcription”. Sign Language & Linguistics 11, no 1 (2008): 69-101. −Johnson, Robert E., and Scott K. Liddell. “Toward a phonetic representation of hand configuration: the fingers”. Sign Language Studies 12, no 1 (2011a): 545. doi: 10.1353/sls.2011.0013 −Johnson, Robert E., and Scott K. Liddell. “Toward a phonetic representation of hand configuration: the thumb”. Sign Language Studies 12, no 2 (2011b): 316-333. doi: 10.1353/sls.2011.0020 −Marzke, Mary W., and M. Steven Shackley. “Hominid hand use in the Pliocene and Pleistocene: Evidence from experimental archaeology and comparative morphology”. Journal of Human Evolution 15, no 6 (septembre 1986): 439-460. doi:10.1016/S0047-2484(86)80027-6. −Napier, John R. “The prehensile movements of the human hand”. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery 38, no 4 (1956): 902-913. −Prillwitz, Siegmund, Regina Leven, Heiko Zienert, Thomas Hanke, and Jan Henning. “Hamburg notation system for sign languages: an introductory guide”. Signum Press. Hamburg, 1989. −Sutton, Valery. “SignWriting for sign languages”. checked online 26/10/2012. http://www.signwriting.org/


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hal-02340794 , version 1 (15-05-2020)


  • HAL Id : hal-02340794 , version 1


Dominique Boutet, Claudia S. Bianchini, Patrick Doan, Timothée Goguely, Morgane Rébulard, et al.. Typannot: a glyphic system for the transcription of handshapes. 7th Conf. International Society of Gestures Studies "Gesture-Creativity-Multimodality", Jul 2016, Paris, France. pp.139. ⟨hal-02340794⟩
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