A Truth Universally Acknowledged

You might like to see what Hippotext looks like before starting to learn it. Here’s the opening to Pride and Prejudice:

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

And here it is in BSL, written using Hippotext:

Snp’supioc axtn n’mld, eeoi pygduxu oi nc2qvyu mliu, emgvv esu mdouo u’pyvdks.

The spellings look random, but they’re actually well-structured. We’ll start learning all about them in the posts yet to come. For now, I’ll just explain the more general ideas about the text.

You’ll notice that the punctuation is as in English: the sentence begins with a capital letter and ends with a full stop, and commas are used to indicate pauses. Nothing new there.

When we see an apostrophe in a word, it means that this is a two-handed sign. The passive hand comes before the apostrophe, the active hand after (by active hand we mean the hand that you habitually sign one-handed signs with, the passive hand being the other hand).

You’ll have noticed the numeral 2 being written in one sign. In this case, it chooses which fingers are used to create the handshape for the sign, 2 being the first two fingers (index and middle).

Words beginning with the letter e are facial expression and body language. As you see, we have three such in this sentence. We only write such words where they’re really needed, and in this case the first indicates where the man (the one who is single and rich) is located in space, the second and third the positive insistence that the man wants a wife.

You’ll be starting to see that as long as you can write English and sign BSL, the generalities of Hippotext are quite familiar to you. All you really have to learn is how to spell the signs. In the forthcoming posts, I’ll explain all of that.

— Sandy Fleming

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