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Universal Prehistoric Depicted Sign Language

Universal Prehistoric Depicted Sign Language

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Published by Cliff

An Ancient System, based on gesture signs, that was transposed to depict and record important concepts for posterity.

An Ancient System, based on gesture signs, that was transposed to depict and record important concepts for posterity.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Cliff on Feb 12, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Depicted Sign Language:An Ancient Universal System of CommunicationClifford C. RicheyJanuary 2!"#Revised August 2!$%
The basis for any study of depicted sign language is the gesture signs
 Illustration 1: The Earthen Vessel,
The Gourd Form, Her Body Everything in the Darkness
Her Neck, Her Throat,A Tube, a TunnelHer Mouth,The Water Source,Her Opening,In the SurfaceHer Unseen a!e,Her Wo"b The #reat OneHis $ocationWithinThe %arknessThe &lace, 'et(een,Her Sides,The enter of the )arth
fro" (hich *or" and I"agery (ere co"posed+ These gesture signs can be historically docu"ented
 and nu"ber o!er -.. signs depending on ho( one counts the"+ Many signs are co"pounds of "ore basic signs thus "aking a definite count "ore difficult+ o"pounding allo(s the signs to be al"ost unli"ited in nu"ber+ There are "any books on Indian Sign language a!ailable to the reader+ No atte"pt(ill be "ade, in this paper, to co!er all the a!ailable signs+ /ather there (ill be an atte"pt to deter"inethe "anner in (hich the gesture signs (ere transposed into a depicted syste" so"eti"e in the distant past+There has been "uch debate o!er the appearance ancient si"ilar signs found (orld (ide and at greatly !arying ti"e periods+ In "any cases there can be no real possibility that the in!ol!ed cultures had any direct contact (ith each other+ What is likely is that the ancient groups of people carried their kno(ledge of gesture and depicted signs (ith the" in their "igrations to ne( areas of the (orld+ Such "igration "ay ha!e been caused by friction bet(een groups, cli"ate change, and a search for ne( and better areas for hunting, agriculture, and a general i"pro!e"ent in li!ing conditions+#esture signing (as !aluable to people for purposes of signaling in silent hunting and (arfare as (ell as for co""unication (ith other groups of people (ho had different !erbal languages+ Sign language (as also used for purposes of trade bet(een different linguistic groups+ Transposing the gesture signs into a depicted for" had the additional !alue of allo(ing a "ore per"anent record of (hat had significant !alue to the groups+ &re!ious to this one had to rely on !erbal traditions for the re"e"brance of the group0s history, cos"ology, and other kno(ledge considered i"portant+The co!er page for this paper sho(s a Moche cera"ic !essel fro" &eru that (as co"posed fro" 1ust the basic signs and for" (ithout any I"agery+ The !essel still "anages to pro!ide a cos"ological "essage about the earth2fe"ale carrying the seed of re2birth+ The *or" of this 3essel is one of a 'ottle #ourd that in an earlier ti"e (as used as
a container.
$ater, cera"ic, !essels continued that shape especially (hen it (as used as a "etaphor for that earthen container, the fe"ale earth+The elo4uence of any translation based on depicted signs (ould ha!e been dependent on the reader and the "anner in (hich the signs (ere paraphrased+ It should be "entioned here that any paraphrased co"position "ight use !ery differentsigns+ The resulting "essage "ight appear !ery different yet the the"es "ight be !ery si"ilar+ At this ti"e it is unkno(n (hether there (as "ore than one syste" of (ritten sign language+ While "any of the co"positions of the !arious cultures"ay, initially, appear 4uite different these differences see" to be "ainly those of artistic style++ These stylistic differences "ay ha!e been intentional, as a "atter of pride, such as a "eans of 5branding6 a culture+ %epicted sign language (as 1ust as logical as the syste" used in gesture signing+ The basic concepts are easily learned+ 'ut the syste" 4uickly beco"es "ore co"plicated (hen it in!ol!es *or" and I"agery as these ha!e their o(n "eaningand associations+ Often one can deter"ine the "eaning of the *or" and I"agery through the sign ele"ents and the conte7t of the o!erall "essage+ 'ecause the depicted syste" is non2linear and non2se4uential it is al"ost subli"inal, to present day researchers, in its ability to bear linguistic content+ Another area of difficulty is that so"e *or"s and I"ages "ay not be sho(n in their totality because they are either "erged or co"pounded, into other signs and, at ti"es, ha!e parts hidden behind other signs+ The reader has to use his kno(ledge of the signs to co"plete the hidden part of the *or"+The 4uestion of (hen or (here the co"positional syste" (as in!ented is unkno(n+ As far back in ti"e as these signs ha!e been found they see" to ha!e already been part of a co"plete syste" At this point in ti"e it see"s that the syste"
To"kins, Willia" Indian Sign $anguage+%en!er &ublications, Inc+ Ne( 8ork 9:9 Mallery, #arrick &icture2Writing of the A"erican Indians, ourier %o!er &ublications, ;9-
"ay be <.,... years or "ore old+ The syste" (as carried by !arious cultures in their "igrations ulti"ately ending up in the A"ericas+ The relati!e isolation of the A"ericas fro" the rest of the ancient (orld "ay ha!e preser!ed the syste" as asnapshot of earlier ti"es+ The cos"ology that (as co""only recorded using the depiction syste" see"s to ha!e been (idespread a"ong the !arious cultures in the A"ericas+ The "ultiple "igrations of groups to the A"ericas and their subse4uent isolation fro" e!ents in the rest of the (orld "ay (ell ha!e preser!ed one of the oldest e7a"ples of an ancient belief syste"+ hanges in beliefs or ho( they (ere e7pressed in the signs could ha!e been rapidly spread along trade routes through both gesture and the depicted signs+ *or "ore infor"ation related to the historical processes as to (hen and (here this co"positional syste" e!ol!ed (e "ay need to look to(ard Asia, Africa, and perhaps e!en to )urope+ As stated abo!e, the scientific basis for a (ritten for" of sign language is fairly solid as hundreds of the basic hand signs are 4uite (ell docu"ented historically+ We are of course on less solid ground (hen (e atte"pt to understand the "eaning of *or" and I"agery+ *or this (e ha!e to look for hints in historical te7ts (here docu"entation is 4uite lean+ Our case has been built up fro" the historic cues that are found in the literature as (ell as fro" (hat has been learned about *or" and I"agery through their conte7t++ Many trial and error substitutions (ere in!ol!ed in defining *or" and I"agery+ 'ecause of the subtlety of the co"positional syste" it is unlikely that all the principles used in such co"positions ha!e been recogni=ed or deter"ined+ The actual associations and the e7tent of these associations is also so"e(hat proble"atical+ It cannot be asserted that all the cos"ological associations, as (ell as the depth of such associations,are fully understood at present+ Hopefully enough of the rules ha!e been disco!ered to gain a general idea about the "eaningof the !arious co"positions+ *or the present it appears that the follo(ing rules (ere used in organi=ing and co"posing the co"positions+ The co"positional syste" (as non linear or non se4uential+ It could be read beginning at any gi!en point as long as the logical order (as rearranged "entally+ #enerally it appears helpful to follo( the Si=e of *or" and I"agery on a di"inishing scale+ One should first !ie( the o!erall *or" and then "o!e to its I"agery, and then to the basic signs of(hich they (ere co"posed+ This needs to be done for each *or" or I"agery section of a co"position+
Use of &ands and 'ingers
Signs (ere "ade by use of the left and right hands+ In signing the left hand represented 
the east 
 (hile the right hand indicated
 the west 
+ The hands could be closed+ open, or (ith fingers pinched together+ The fingers could be spread (ide, an indi!idual inde7 finger could be used or "ultiple fingers+ Such !ariances (ould sho( up in depictions as lines cur!ing to the left or right as (ell as single or "ultiple lines+ This is a !ery co"plicated sub1ect and "ore research needs to be doneregarding ho( each hand and its fingers (ere used to create subtle distinctions in "eaning+
Layered (rgani)ation
#esture signs (ere depicted by hand "otions "ade in the air and relied on the reader0s "e"ory to retain the "eaning fro" one sign to the other+ The sa"e syste" could not ha!e been used in (ritten sign language because (riting signs on top of one another (ould ha!e resulted in a hopeless tangle of signs+ Thus signs (ere separated by organi=ing the" spatially such as grouping the *or"s and I"agery into patterns >sections?+ *or our purposes *or", I"agery, and #esture ele"ents are all considered Signs+ #enerally the signs appear to ha!e been read fro" the largest sign to the s"allest+ )ach co"plete *or" or I"age is independent of the others and contains its o(n "essage+ The "essage of course, relates to the entire co"position but not directly fro" section to section+ *or e7a"ple, (hen the earth (as depicted as a fe"ale figure it s face (ould be
the face of the earth.
 'ut (hen one concentrates 1ust on the face *or" itself it "ight relate to the *or" of
a male-spirit 
*he +nitial or *otal 'orm #shape%
This could be considered the title or sub1ect of the co"position+ It has not yet been learned ho( one should deter"ine Total *or"+ At ti"es it see"s that one should 1ust !isually trace the outline to gain the *or"+ At other ti"es this see"s to result in an incoherent shape or perhaps an unrecogni=ed shape+ So"e co"position of signs present a kind of illustration

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