Catalan Sign Language
Llengua de signes catalana
Native toSpain
Native speakers
est. 9,000 (2014)[1]
possibly French SL
  • Catalan Sign Language
Language codes
ISO 639-3csc
ELPCatalan Sign Language

Catalan Sign Language (Catalan: Llengua de signes catalana, LSC; IPA: [ˈʎeŋɡwə ðə ˈsiŋnəs kətəˈlanə]) is a sign language used by around 18,000 people in different areas of Spain including Catalonia. As of 2012, the Catalan Federation for the Deaf estimates 25,000 LSC signers and roughly 12,000 deaf people around the Catalan lands.[2] It has about 50% intelligibility with Spanish Sign Language (LSE). On the basis of mutual intelligibility, lexicon, and social attitudes, linguists have argued that LSC and LSE are distinct languages.[3]

Since 1994, LSC has had official status, due to a law to promote the language promulgated by the Generalitat de Catalunya. Catalonia was the first Spanish Autonomous Community to approve a law for a sign language.[citation needed]

The Catalan Federation of Deaf People (FESOCAT) is an NGO founded in 1979 to represent and to defend the rights of deaf associations and individuals to achieve a full social participation and integration. FESOCAT organises several courses, activities, and meetings. In 2007, a bill was passed in Spain referred to as the "Bill of Deaf People" which was designed to cover sign language issues.[3]

There are research groups for LSC, such as ILLESCAT (LSC Study Centre). This centre studies the evolution of the language, makes linguistic studies and creates new neologisms. The 'Platform for Linguistic and Cultural Rights for LSC Users' a.k.a. LSC, Ara! carried out a law to promote this language in the Statute of Autonomy.[citation needed]


Wittmann (1991) suspects that LSC may be part of the French Sign Language family, but transmission to Catalonia would have happened early, and is not easy to demonstrate.[4] Likewise, a Linguistic Professor from the University of La Coruña who specializes in LSC, found that the difference between a language like this and oral languages is the use of "neutral space" in front of the signer when speaking on real life situations as well as the use of visual character.[5]

Linguistic properties

LSC primarily uses two of the three planes: horizontal and vertical planes.[6]

A 2008 study using LSC demonstrated a universal pattern in the manner in the way signed and spoken language are used to communicate ideas. The experiment took into consideration movement, handshape and location as the three modes of comparison and analysis.[7]

In another study, the numeral signs of LSC were analyzed, noting the differing methods of signing numbers above five, which found some differences between LSC and American Sign Language (ASL) and emphasized how these changes can cause a language to change and evolve.[8] Numbers in Catalan Sign Language are considered more "transparent" than numbers in Spanish and Catalan as the decimal values are made more explicit.[8]

Impersonal sentences in LSC are determinant upon syntactic differences in pronominal forms, role shift, and spatial locations.[9]

As in ASL, verbs are divided into simple, deictic, and spatial-locative verbs.[5]

The complexity of signing metaphors in LSC was studied in an experiment involving double-mapping, and the iconicity in sign languages like LSC and ASL plays a fundamental role for cognitive theories noting the symbiotic relationship between grammar and bodily cognition.[10] Deaf people in Catalonia are taught to read and write oral languages.[11][page needed]

LSC Award

In May 2015, the Departament de Cultura (Department for Culture) created the LSC Award[12] in order to acknowledge individuals, institutions and initiatives for their contribution to the promotion and spreading of LSC.

This biennial award has the same consideration as other awards regarding spoken languages like the Pompeu Fabra Award for Catalan and the Robèrt Lafont Award for Occitan.

See also


  1. ^ Catalan Sign Language at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Barberà Altimira, Gemma (20 April 2012). The meaning of space in Catalan Sign Language (LSC). Reference, specificity and structure in signed discourse (Thesis). hdl:10803/81074.
  3. ^ a b Quer, Josep (2012). "Legal Pathways to the Recognition of Sign Languages: A Comparison of the Catalan and Spanish Sign Language Acts". Sign Language Studies. 12 (4): 565–582. doi:10.1353/sls.2012.0012. S2CID 143970585.
  4. ^ Wittmann, Henri (1991). "Classification linguistique des langues signées non vocalement" [Linguistic classification of non-vocally signed languages] (PDF). Revue québécoise de linguistique théorique et appliquée (in French). 10 (1): 215–288.
  5. ^ a b Morales-Lopez, Esperanza; Boldu-Menasanch, Rosa Maria; Alonso-Rodriguez, Jesus Amador; Gras-Ferrer, Victoria; Rodriguez-Gonzalez, Maria Angeles (2005). "The Verbal System of Catalan Sign Language (LSC)". Sign Language Studies. 5 (4): 441–496. doi:10.1353/sls.2005.0018. S2CID 143572435.
  6. ^ Barberà, Gemma (2014). "Use and Functions of Spatial Planes in Catalan Sign Language (LSC) Discourse". Sign Language Studies. 14 (2): 147–174. doi:10.1353/sls.2014.0000. hdl:10230/47252. S2CID 52247757.
  7. ^ Baus, Cristina; Gutiérrez-Sigut, Eva; Quer, Josep; Carreiras, Manuel (September 2008). "Lexical access in Catalan Signed Language (LSC) production". Cognition. 108 (3): 856–865. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2008.05.012. hdl:10230/33129. PMID 18656181. S2CID 29616434.
  8. ^ a b Fuentes, Mariana; Tolchinsky Landsmann, Liliana (2004). "The Subsystem of Numerals in Catalan Sign Language: Description and Examples from a Psycholinguistic Study". Sign Language Studies. 5 (1): 94–117. doi:10.1353/sls.2004.0022. S2CID 144776512.
  9. ^ Meurant, Laurence; Lie Sinte, Aur; Van Herreweghe, Mieke (2013). Sign Language Research, Uses and Practices. Boston: De Gruyter Mouton. ISBN 978-1-61451-199-1.[page needed]
  10. ^ Jarque, Maria-Josep (2005). "Double Mapping in Metaphorical Expressions of Thought and Communication in Catalan Sign Language (LSC)". Sign Language Studies. 5 (3): 292–316. doi:10.1353/sls.2005.0008. S2CID 144943519.
  11. ^ Plaza-Pust, Carolina; Morales-López, Esperanza (2008-09-26). Sign Bilingualism: Language development, interaction, and maintenance in sign language contact situations. ISBN 9789027290427.
  12. ^ "Es crea el Premi LSC de Foment de la Llengua de Signes Catalana". Departament de cultura (Generalitat de Catalunya). 9 May 2015. Archived from the original on 21 November 2015.

Relevant literature