Selected fingers

The active fingers of the hand are the selected fingers. These fingers:

i) Can assume a specific configuration

ii) Can have internal movement

iii) Are usually the fingers in contact with a location (Sandler, 1989; Brentari, 1998)

In contrast, the non-selected fingers do not have internal movement and do not assume specific configurations. Their configurations are usually predictable.

The table provided by clicking here shows the handshapes in Spanish Sign Language (LSE) based on the selected fingers, accompanied by examples of signs taken predominantly from Muñoz Baell (1999) and Herrero Blanco (2009).

To demonstrate the contrastive value of these handshapes, we present some minimal pairs below.

WINE and JUNE differ in that WINE has the thumb as the selected finger, while JUNE has the index finger as the selected finger.

The handshapes of LIE and DIRT contrast. LIE is made with the index finger selected, while DIRT is made with the index, ring, and little fingers selected.

The handshape in TV has the thumb and index finger selected and extended, while in VIVACIOUS the index and ring fingers are extended.

SMOKE is articulated with the index and ring fingers selected, while BAT is articulated with the index and little fingers selected.

CONTACT and BED differ in handshape. In CONTACT, only the ring finger is selected, while in BED, the ring finger is also selected.

A different handshape may imply that other features of the sign are also modified, such as the point where the hands make contact. For example, in CONTACT, the selected finger is the ring finger. However, in STONE, the handshape is a fist. CONTACT and STONE form a near-minimal pair because the different configuration also implies a different point of contact, resulting in differences in some other aspects apart from the manual form.

In PLANE, the selected fingers are the index and little fingers. FOREIGN is articulated with the index, ring, and little fingers. Although the movement remains the same in both signs, in the case of FOREIGN, it is repeated. Once again, we encounter a near-minimal pair.

Finally, upon reviewing the exhaustive list by Muñoz Baell (1999), the handshape with only the ring finger selected has not been described in LSE. There are also no references to combinations of the ring and thumb; index and ring; ring and little; index, ring, and little; or thumb, index, ring, and little. Handshapes from the fingerspelling alphabet or the numerical system of LSE will be addressed later in GramLSE, such as the combination of index, ring, and little (letter P, number 3).

Villameriel García, S. (2023). Phonology: Selected fingers. In S. Villameriel García (Ed.), Gramática de la Lengua de Signos Española (GramLSE) / Grammar of Spanish Sign Language (GramLSE). Real Patronato sobre Discapacidad. Retrieved Month DD, YYYY, from https://cnlse.es/es/recursos/gramlse/ingles/index/phonology/sublexical-structure/active-articulators/phonemic-handshapes/selected-fingers