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How to express plural in Catalan Sign Language

Catalan Sign Language uses five basic ways to express singular or plural forms:

  1. Free morphemes

  2. Reduplication (repetition)

  3. Numerical incorporation

  4. Enumerations

  5. Non-manual markers

1. Free morphemes

Plural may be expressed through an additional sign or with the use of a number, which comes after the noun.

Examples of additional signs are:

● “lots”

● “few”

Examples of numeral signs are:

● “four”

2. Reduplication (repetition)

Some signs may be pluralised by way of repetition, by moving the sign laterally along a horizontal plane. The sign is often repeated three times, but that does not mean that we mean three times, as it could refer to more times than this.

For example: “This year I only have three subjects”

3. Numerical incorporation

This consists in incorporating the configuration of a number sign into another sign, which could be a pronoun or a sign that indicates a time unit (like “hour”, “week” or “year”).

With pronouns:

● “They four”

● “They” (generic plural, without incorporation)

With time units:

● “Two weeks”

● “Six months”

4. Enumerations

Enumerations serve to express a list of different objects. It is articulated with the non-dominant hand and the palm facing the signer, with the fingers outstretched. This sign is also used to represent the four weeks of a month.

5. Non-manual markers

Non-manual markers provide information regarding quantity to express degree.

● Small quantity: stick the tip of the tongue out, raise the eyebrows and shoulders

● Large quantity: puff the cheeks

If you’re interested in learning more about expressing numbers in LSC, you should have a look at the theory and examples that appear in the Number section of the Basic Grammar of LSC.

Content: Barberà, Gemma (2010) Language: Catalan sign language (LSC) [academic notes]. UPFMoodle

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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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