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How to express plural in Catalan Sign Language

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

  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 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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