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Interrogative clauses in LSC: content questions

What distinguishes a question from other clauses?

Interrogative clauses are distinguished from declaratives due to the non-manual marking. Non-manual marking can consist of:

  • Facial expression

  • Movement and position of the upper body: torso, body and head

A non-manual marker is the equivalent of intonation for oral languages.

Interrogative clauses in LSC

Catalan Sign Language, like all languages, has a specific type of clause used for asking questions. In LSC, we can distinguish two types of interrogative clauses, according to the type of answer we can obtain: yes/no questions (polar questions) and questions with open answer (content questions).


Formal characteristics of content questions

  • Intrinsic components of non-manual marking in content questions are the following: furrowed eyebrows, forward position for head and shoulders, and raised chin.

  • Non-manual markers appear over the interrogative sign in the content question. However, in some cases non-manual marking can also spread over one or more preceding signs.

  • Apart from non-manual marking, in LSC, we can also find different signs for each of the following interrogative signs: what, who, which, when, how much/many, where, how and why.

  • Interrogative signs usually appear in the very last position of the clause. Exceptionally, interrogative signs can be omitted; in these cases, non-manual marking spreads over the entire clause and appears over each sign.

In the upcoming steps we will come into more detail on how to ask questions in LSC, with an interrogative sign (next step) and without an interrogative sign (next week).

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

Pompeu Fabra University Barcelona

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