Coding

Some ideas concerning a possible coding system applicable to n.r.a., t.r.a., demo-imitation, mime, sign, and all the other stages

1. We might start with the system devised by Stokoe to codify and describe A.S.L.*

2. This must be supplemented by codings for the actual objects used in nr.a., t.r.a., etc.

3. But isn't this the wrong way round, we end up with a more primitive form being described by a more elaborate coding????
The answer to this is that the Stokoe coding is incomplete if we only consider the coding for handshape, and movement, and position(s) on the body
The b.s.l. or any other dictionary obviously has to consider the MEANING of the sign, (or complete proposition, request etc), we have to code this too. The signer or person signed to, has to add a mental, symbolised aspect, e.g. an imagined object, whereas in a lower stage the object might be actual. The coding would have to differentiate between an actual object, a simpler feat, and an imagined one, a more complex, and/or abstract, difficult feat.
In a verbal language dictionary we are given
a word
how to pronounce it
its meaning
In a sign language dictionary we are given
a sign
how to make it
its meaning
And so on

We have to codify facial expressions also; see standard psychology texts for this
These are important signs of the person's attitude to something, like/want, or don't like/don' t want
In N.R.A., T.R.A., DEMO-IMITATION etc, we have to code feet movements; due to the nature of the inflexible human foot, unlike in other primates, and unlike the human hand, coding for foot shape is unnecessary
Consider the (how to) kick a ball item in the Denver Screening Test
One might analyse this as a plan
a. Goal: kick a ball
B. Gather the necessary ingredients, i.e.
leg
foot
maybe some appropriate footwear to increase the power of the foot, leg, protect it etc
ball
C. Method
place the ball on the floor
position yourself w.r.t. the ball
draw a leg, foot back
swing it to contact the ball with the foot
follow through
etc

In sign the active object is a body part, the hand.
Its position and movement, the start and finish position, is often in reference to another body part.
In n.r.a. etc the active object might be a different body part. e.g. the foot. Its movement, its start and final position might have reference to an inanimate object, e.g. the foot is brought into contact with a ball. We also have to characterise the type of movement, which is done in Stokoe. In the kick a ball case the movement is a back movement, a ------ etc
SIGN
Say a child signs 'shoes' to his mother. Is this all of the behaviour? If it were we would just Stokoe code it as ??? But of course it isn't, the child expects his mother to put his outdoor shoes on his feet and take him for a walk. We have to code this in also, to fully describe the child's behaviour.
Plan
The child had a plan, so:-
Goal: go for a walk
Plan
Sign 'shoes'to Mum.
Expectation1, based on past experience:To have my shoes put on and be taken for a walk
Implementation
Expectation2:To have my shoes put on and be taken for a walk
Outcome
success, I was taken for a walk
Remember the goal, the plan or method used, and that it was successful, for future reference
failure, I was not taken for a walk
Remember the goal, the plan or method used, and that it was unsuccessful, for future reference

T.R.A.
Say a child gives his mother the car keys. Is this all of the behaviour? If it were we would just Stokoe code it as ??? But of course it isn't, the child expects his mother to put his outdoor shoes on his feet and take him for a walk. We have to code this in also, to fully describe the child's behaviour.
The child had a plan, so:-
Goal: to go for a walk
Plan
Give my outdoor shoes to Mum.
Expectation1, based on past experience.
To have my shoes put on and be taken for a walk
Implement plan
Expectation2: to go for a walk
Outcome
success, I was taken for a walk, (signalled by a smile, emotional only or emotional and deliberate)
Remember the goal, the plan or method used, and that it was successful, for future reference
failure, I was not taken for a walk, (signalled by a frown or crying, emotional only or emotional and deliberate)
Remember the goal, the plan or method used, and that it was unsuccessful, for future reference
(i) Try again, as before
(ii) if still not successful try a new plan
(iii) if still not successful after x tries, change the goal slightly

We have to code the expectation. Maybe, at some level, the child expects his mother to understand what he is saying, or 'saying', to understand what he means by doing what he does, and do what he has asked for, give him what he wants.
There will be different levels of expectation, e.g. the sort a dog has when he hears the food bell or buzzer etc., a low level unverbalised thing, maybe call it Expectation 1, a higher level one, e.g. call it Expectation 2 and so on.

In the stage of devising a plan the child might symbolise his need, and so a possible goal.
Then he draws upon his knowledge, his past experience of need-goal-plan-outcome complexes*. From this he selects a plan
Then he implements this and notes the result

* The database he might acquire and use might have this form need goal plan success or failure x z y + etc

Consider these cases ----
Demo-imitation
P1 wants P2 to KICK A BALL, to see if he CAN kick a ball
He collects P2, and a ball
He kicks the ball and then places the ball by P2's foot
His leg and foot are a symbol for P2's leg and foot
The ball is not symbolised, it is itself

SIGN

P1 collects P2 and a ball
He signs 'ball' by making a round shape with his hands, places this sign, and then makes a 'kicking' sign close to that place, to the 'ball', using his index and middle finger to represent a person's legs and feet.
Collect ball, P2



This is established, I think, in our system e.g.
object refers to the real object, e.g. milk bottle
'object' refers to a symbol, e.g. photo, of the object, e.g. 'milk bottle'
''object'' refers to a symbol, e.g. photo, of a symbol, e.g. photo of a milk botttle.
So when we put up a photo of Aoy holding a full milk bottle in the kitchen on a wall of the kitchen, and take a view of the kitchen, including an image of this photo, this latter is coded as ''milk bottle''.
How should we differentiate between the various types of symbol, e.g. real object in T.R.A., photo in P.C.S., black and white schematic drawing in S.C.S., and sign, in SIGN?
To call a photo symbol of an orange 'orangeph', to call a schematic symbol of an orange 'orangesy', etc will not help us, I think. We need some reference to the way in which s.c.s. differs from p.c.s. and is an advance over it, to the analysed structure of the stage.
How did we say that sign differed from mime?
In mime any part of the body can be used as the active part, whose shape is described under dez, and any part of the body, or space immediately adjacent to the body, as the place where the sign starts, (tab). The sig or movement is ???
In sign only the upper part of the body from the waist up to a position just above the head is used for tab; and only the hands are active objects, (their shape described under dez*) Look up the notation for tab, in sign, = that for head, upper body, middle body down to waist. Look up the notation for sig. I would imagine its too limited for our purpose The dez can be ---- The sig can be ---
* The inflexibility of feet makes consideration of their shape, (dez) largely irrelevant.

A possible complete coding
Need or desire of P1, P1 wants a sweet, P1 would like a sweet, shewn by:-
a. picture of P1 with a sweet and smiling, on one side of a card
picture of P1 without a sweet and frowning, on the other side of the card
after this, e.g. to the right of it
b. picture of P1 pointing to a picture of a sweet in presence of P2, in real space, = this is really happening
coded by
P1, G hand, --->'sweet', (inside the photo), + P2
after this e.g. to the right of this,
c. picture of P1 with a sweet and smiling, in real space, = this really happened, P1 got the sweet he wanted
coded by
'P1', + 'sweet', 'smiling face' on 'P1'
Note that the third picture can be observed by an outsider, the consequence of P1's point to a picture of a sweet is that he got a sweet, so the meaning of his action, for P1 is PERHAPS "give me a sweet', and the meaning of P1's action for P2. P3 etc. is also PERHAPS "give me a sweet"
What about the second picture, a? This seems to portray a need or desire of P1
The need or desire itself cannot be observed but its expression might be. In c, P1's facial expression expresses what the desire must have been; in a we try to describe the need state before P1 actually points to the photo. If P1 is aware of the situation described in a, he is quite conscious of his need and might be able to describe it in terms of the double sided picture. We will have to get P1 to use the double sided picture, to present it to P2, to express his need or desire and get what he wants, assuming that P2 is disposed to give it to him.
The double sided picture is the equivalent of the point to 'sweet' + a 'please' sign
Note that P1's point to the picture e.g. of a sweet, is, by default, taken to mean, not just the object itself, but "I WANT a sweet"
If the child gets to a stage where his point might simply mean 'sweet', to shew he WANTS a sweet he might
a. Point to the picture
and
b. Make a 'please' sign
This takes us away from the goal of making the expressive response simple and singular but there you have it.
How would we code holding-a-ball?
Something like
hand + ball

hand, ball holding handshape??, contact, ball

Other sources and hints for a coding system.
1. The time and motion, or work study stuff in industrial psychology, e.g. therbligs etc
How does this go? Grasp, move/transport, place, release etc?
2. The dance notation, devised by ?????

For material concerning handshapes click here handshapes

* Now I am beginning to change my mind about this. I don't think the Stokoe system of describing handshapes can handle all these stages. Instead I think we should code in terms of contact points.
This might give us the means to show the relationships between different handshapes better than the Stokoe system.
Since our system will be in terms of contact points the start point or simplest or base shape must be the flat, ('5' hand in Stokoe), since here there are no contact points in the handshape. (Note that our photo of this shape in these articles needs replacing, in fact we used a photo of a clawed hand, a 5 with 3 dots since we didnt have one of a real 5 shape)

Contact points will also be the basis for describing the relationship between a hand, or a foot, with another object, or objects, and the movement, (change in this), from one place, object to another.

© 2004 John and Ian Locking

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