Simplified Signs: A Sleeping Giant

sign language Sep 16, 2020

by Janis Sposato (Bonvillian)

For over twenty years, the development and eventual publication of the Simplified Sign System was the one and only goal.  Last month, with the assistance of Open Book Publishers and the perseverance of the authors, family and friends, the Simplified Signs project crossed the publication finish line.  And it did so with aplomb – a beautifully crafted two-volume set of research and signs available worldwide, online and for free for anyone to use.

So now what?

Now it is time to use the signs, to play with them and to explore the reaches of this rich new communication tool.

The Simplified Sign System is not unlike a sleeping giant.  It is big to begin with.  There are approximately one thousand signs illustrated in the Volume 2 lexicon.  But when it is awakened, those one thousand signs can be used to signify many thousands more ideas, concepts and words.   The Sign Index and your own creativity are the only tools you need to waken the giant and unlock the full richness of the Simplified Sign System.

Here is an example.  Suppose you want to sign the word “symphony.”  If you look through Volume 2 and find the “S” signs, you will not see a unique sign listed for “symphony.”  But there is a way to sign “symphony.”   It is by making the sign for MUSIC.  The sign for MUSIC is reminiscent of a conductor directing the musical performance of an orchestra.  Taking it a step further, you can focus on a different meaning of the sign for MUSIC to connote “sing, singer, or choir” by simply opening your mouth while making the MUSIC sign.  The key is to know that MUSIC is the main concept under which related ideas are listed.  This is where the Sign Index is such a useful tool.

The Sign Index contains references to all the signs as well as to their synonyms, antonyms and related concepts.  In the case above, MUSIC is the sign or “main gloss” (think glossary) or concept and “symphony” is a related word or concept.  Both words are alphabetized in the Sign Index.  The related word “symphony” is in ordinary typeface and if you look it up, the index gives you a cross-reference to the main gloss word, MUSIC.  The main gloss is in all capital letters and boldface print, and it is followed by a page number where you will find the sign.  If you click on the page number in an electronic version of the Sign Index, a link will take you directly to the page that illustrates and explains the main gloss concept or sign as well as its synonyms, antonyms and related concepts.

Most main gloss words are intended to be used broadly.   You can find them easily using the Sign Index.  We encourage you to search them out and to use them creatively.  If you do this, you will greatly expand your communication possibilities and add to the sheer pleasure of using Simplified Signs.


Also the sign for Conductor, Conduct Music, Orchestra, and Symphony. If this sign is made with the mouth open, it means Choir, Sing, and/or Singer.

This book is now available to read and download for free. Please, click here to access Vol. 1 and here for Vol.2.

Open Book Publishers

We believe that knowledge should be available to everyone: our books are free to read and download online, and we are working to create a world in which all research is freely available to all readers