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This content is taken from the Pompeu Fabra University Barcelona's online course, Introduction to Catalan Sign Language: Speaking with Your Hands and Hearing with Your Eyes. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 18 seconds We are aware that there are a lot of oral languages, but it should be taken into account that there are also a lot of sign languages throughout the world. In fact, each year more sign languages are recognised and, furthermore, each country may have more than one sign language meaning that that two or more sign languages can coexist in the same territory. Here in Spain, for example,

Skip to 0 minutes and 44 seconds there are two: Spanish sign language and Catalan sign language, and both are recognised. Sign languages are not an artificial system of communication, since each one has its own rules, lexicon, structure and grammar. Sign languages allow two people communicate naturally, as they would do in any other language. Sign language and spoken language differ on their communication channel. While sign language is perceived visually and is expressed through gestures, spoken language is expressed through sounds and is received through an audible signal. For this reason, sign language has some characteristics derived from its communication channel, such as that it is expressed through gestures, hands, head and body movement; uses the space; and can be iconic as well as abstract.

Skip to 1 minute and 42 seconds Sign language has evolved over the course of time: it is neither theatre nor mime, and it is not an artificial system of communication.

Skip to 1 minute and 55 seconds And, in fact, there is not just a single sign language in the world: there are a lot.

Natural languages

In this video, Delfina discusses natural languages vs. artificial systems. Where does sign language belong in this classification?

Remember: you can slow the video down to half the speed to better see how the signs are made. In the video player, simply hover over 1x and select 0.5x instead.

For those who are new to sign language, please note: we don’t expect you to understand the videos perfectly during the first week. However, watching them will help you get familiar with the language and will improve your learning throughout the course.

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This video is from the free online course:

Introduction to Catalan Sign Language: Speaking with Your Hands and Hearing with Your Eyes

Pompeu Fabra University Barcelona

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