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Basic Guide for Communication in Catalan Sign Language

5. Building sentences

In this unit we will see the use of space and LSC verb types. We also will focus on three types of statements, the affirmative, negative and interrogative phrases, and explain the basic order of components of each.

5.1. LSC Verbs

In order to explain how verbs function in LSC it is important first to see how space is used in sign language.

One of the most important linguistic elements in sign language is the act of signing or pointing. For example, we can use our index finger to point directly to the place where we are, to the moment or people involved in the conversation, regardless of whether they are real or imaginary. This type of signing gives way to the signs used to refer to personal pronouns. Let’s take a look at them:

Sometimes the people we are referring to are present and we can point directly to them; other times they are not. In these cases we use a horizontal movement in front of our chest.

This use of space is not limited to pronouns and is applied to some verbs as we will now see. But first, let’s look at the three types of LSC verbs:

  • Plain verbs
  • Spatial verbs
  • Inflecting verbs

Plain verbs

Only one form is used in plain verbs and the subject and object must be designated when signing. Let’s practice the following plain verbs:

Spatial verbs

This group of verbs includes information on the space, whether real or imaginary, in which the action of the predicate takes place. For example, when a signer explains that he or she is reading a book, the sign BOOK is shaped on a horizontal plane in front of the chest and then he or she shapes the sign READ. The same happens with SEARCH, which needs a specific point in space to be conjugated and the movement made with this sign directly points to the fact that the signer is trying to find something. Here are a few examples:

Inflecting verbs

The space mentioned to sign pronouns will now serve to establish relations between the subject and object of a verb. Here are two examples:

I give it to youYou give it to me

As observed, when the action is done by the signer (Video 1) the movement of the verb ends in front of the addressee. But if the action is carried out by the addressee and is directed to the signer (Video 2), the movement changes direction. Movement in these types of verbs is determined by the origin of the action, i.e. the person carrying out the action and the person receiving it. Concordance between the two is signalled with a change of direction and with the fingers pointing to the object. Let’s look at some examples of these types of verbs:

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