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Conference Papers Year : 2016

Typannot: a glyphic system for the transcription of sign languages.

Typannot: un système glyphique pour la transcription de Langues de Signes

Typannot: un sistema glifico per la trascrizione di lingue dei segni


Existing writing systems for Sign Language (SL) (SignWriting [Sutton,2015]; 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 2011a, 2011b; 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) [Bringshurst 2004; Billeter 2010].We consider that the phonetics for handshapes is praxis: beside a linguistic use, phonetic doesn’t exist for signs independently from 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 & Shackley 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. After this first phase we are organizing and encoding the glyphs in order for them to be fully searchable through the Unicode standard.Bibliography:[1] Sutton, Valery. “SignWriting for sign languages”. checked online 13/11/2015. http://www.signwriting.org/[2] Prillwitz, Siegmund, Regina Leven, Heiko Zienert, Thomas Hanke & Jan Henning. “Hamburg notation system for sign languages: an introductory guide”. Signum Press. Hamburg, 1989.[3] Johnson, Robert E. & Scott K. Liddell. “Toward a phonetic representation of hand configuration: the fingers”. Sign Language Studies 12, no° 1 (2011a): 5-45. doi: 10.1353/sls.2011.0013[4] Johnson, Robert E. & 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[5] Ann, Jean. “A functional explanation of Taiwan Sign Language handshape frequency”. Language and Linguistics (Taipei) 6, no° 2 (2005): 217.[6] Eccarius, Petra & Brentari, Diane. “Handshape coding made easier: a theoretically based notation for phonological transcription”. Sign Language & Linguistics 11, no° 1 (2008): 69-101.[7] Bringshurst, Robert. The solid form of language: an essay on writing and meaning. 2004, Gaspereau.[8] Billeter, Jean-François. Essai sur l’art chinois de l’écriture et ses fondements, Paris, Allia,‎ 2010, 416 p.[9] Napier, John R. “The prehensile movements of the human hand”. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery 38, n° 4 (1956): 902-913.[10] Marzke, Mary W. & 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.
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hal-02340803 , version 1 (31-10-2019)


  • HAL Id : hal-02340803 , version 1


Dominique Boutet, Claire Danet, Patrick Doan, Thimothée Goguely, Morgane Rébulard, et al.. Typannot: a glyphic system for the transcription of sign languages.. Journées d'étude DIG2016 - La dynamique interactionnelle du geste: “Making sense together”, Sep 2016, Paris 8, France. pp.2-3. ⟨hal-02340803⟩
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