LSC for all

LSC Lab. Qui som?

The LSC LAB is linked to the Department of Translation and Interpreting of the Pompeu Fabra University, and is part of the Formal Linguistics Group (GliF). It also has a stable collaboration with the General Linguistics Department of the University of Barcelona and, since quite recently, with the University of Sevilla. It is formed by senior researchers, predoctoral research students and signing deaf experts. Together, we carry out the research supported through competitive projects (...)

Les llengües de signes són llengües naturals

Contrary to what many people still think, Sign Languages are human languages, just like Spoken Languages. That is, they are natural languages that have appeared spontaneously over time within a community of speakers: they have not been invented or designed artificially. They have all the abstract structural properties that we have recognized in the study of Spoken Languages. They have their own lexicons, and complex and sophisticated grammars that allow for an infinite production of sentences, just like any Spoken Language.

Les gramàtiques de les llengües de signes

We now know that the grammars of Sign Languages can be described and analyzed with the tools of phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics. What really makes them special is that these languages are produced and perceived through other channels: we perceive them through the eyes and we articulate them in space with our hands and arms, and also with the movement and position of the torso, of the head and of the different elements in our faces. That is why we say that these languages belong to the visual-gestural modality, while Spoken Languages belong to the oral-aural modality.

Situació sociolingüística de les llengües de signes

As the languages of deaf signing people, Sign Languages are not only minoritary, but also have been marginated and surrounded by prejudices based on ignorance. As minority languages, they did not have a share in most of the spheres of the majoritary society around them until quite recently, and were therefore restricted to informal usage the environment of the family. This situation has changed in many countries, like our own, and Sign Languages are becoming more visible in many fields they could not reach before, such as mass media, education, or justice, for instance.

Les llengües de signes varien arreu del món

Of course, we talk about “Sign Languages” in plural because there are a lot of them and, in fact, it is very likely that we have not identified all of them yet. The best known of them are those that belong to some country or state with a numerically important community of users. Nevertheless, we also know cases of rural Sign Languages in several points of the planet that have sprung in small communities that have developed their own Sign Language.

El sistema de signes internacional

By the way, the so called International Sign System is nothing else than a way of signed communication (essentially a vocabulary) created to allow deaf people that do not share a Sign Language to communicate among them.

La lingüística de les llengües de signes

Sign Languages have not been the object of study of Linguistics until quite recently. That is why many aspects of each particular language are still unknown to us, specially in what regards their grammars. That is the central task we carry out at the LSC LAB: understanding in depth many of the properties of the grammar of Catalan Sign Language that are yet not described, or are described only partially and superficially, and even discovering new ones. It is like trying to understand an extremely complex mechanism from the parts that make it up, and knowing how these parts interact.

La perspectiva interlingüística

We mainly devote ourselves to the study of very diverse aspects of the grammar of LSC, but we always do so comparing it to what we know of other Sign and Spoken Languages. Being natural languages, human languages share abstract properties, regardless of the very obvious differences we observe in the languages of the world. Since the study of Sign Languages has but a very short tradition, it is crucial to try to understand if visual-gestural modality has effects on the structure of language or not.

Aplicacions de l'estudi de les llengües de signes

The knowledge obtained from research in Sign Languages is not only relevant for the advancement of Linguistics. As an essential component of the capacities of the mind/brain, the understanding of the human faculty of language offers a decisive contribution to Cognitive Science, given that it interacts with many other cognitive systems. From an applied perspective, also, knowing a language in detail is a basic requirement in order to teach it at school, or to be able to teach sign language interpreters, for instance.