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Basic sign components with examples

The basic components of a sign are: handshape, location, movement, orientation and non-manual component. This article explains with more detail each component and illustrates them with the signs of different fruits. Read the article and practice the sign of these fruits.

1. Handshape

This is the shape that the hand and fingers adopt. Look at the handshape of the following fruits (note that in bimanual signs the handshape may be the same or different for the dominant and the non-dominant hand):

Strawberry

Lemon

Grape

2. Location

This is the place where the sign is articulated. It could be in neutral space or in contact with the signer’s body. Look at the location of the signs for the following fruits:

Cherry

Orange

Pear

3. Movement

Movement means the hand’s trajectory (the path) and the way it moves (circular, quick or slow). Look at the movement of the signs for the following fruits:

Cherry

Pear

4. Orientation

This is the direction the palm faces. It could be that the palm faces the same direction throughout the sign, or that it begins with one orientation and ends with another. Look at the orientation of the signs for these fruits:

Apple

Peach

Melon

5. Non-manual component

Non-manual components include facial expression, body movement, the position of the head and any oral and spoken components.

Content: Barberà, Gemma (2010) Catalan Sign Language (LSC) 1 [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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