Skip to 0 minutes and 18 secondsIf we take any sign that exists we could break it down into its smallest units. These basic components of the sign are divided into five major groups, known as formative parameters. The first is hand shape. The second is palm orientation. The third is movement. The fourth is location. The fifth is the non-manual component, which refers to facial expressions and body movements, and not the hands. These five parameters form the sign. Let’s look at an example.

Skip to 0 minutes and 50 secondsThe sign HOUSE has a specific hand shape: fingers out stretched and together. The palms face downwards. The movement made when the sign is articulate disrepetitive and the hands are touching. The location of the sign is in front of the signer’s body and the facial expression is neutral. Let’s look at another example, like the sign SAD. This sign begins with one hand shape -hand open- and ends with another -closed fist. In this case, the palm orientation is upwards. The movement is descending. The location is in front of the signer’s chest and contact is made here. The facial expression associated with this sign is made by frowning and lowering the corners of the lips.

Basic sign components

In this video, Santi discusses the basic components of a sign:

  • Handshape
  • Palm orientation
  • Movement
  • Location
  • Non-manual component (facial expression and body/head movement)

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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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