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Activity 6.2

Activity 6.2

Making comparisons and connections between languages

The students will learn more about sentence patterns and glossing.

NZSL sentences sometimes have a word order that’s different from that used in English. Sign language sentence structures are more flexible than those in English. Show these two sentence patterns to the students. Plain sentences follow the subject-verb-object order, as in English. Sentences that start with a topic followed by a comment are known as topic-comment sentences.

Use the grammatical name for each sentence pattern, as shown here, when discussing these patterns with your students. Play Clip 6.2c: Topic-Comment sentences to show these.

I play cricket.


I play cricket.


I like rugby.


I like rugby.


Display the following sentences. Tell students to find a partner and work out how to express the same idea in NZSL using the topic-comment sentence pattern.

  • Do you need sleep?
  • I need a hug.
  • I want to play.
  • I like sports.

You will find further information on the topic-comment comments in NZSL on Clip 0.6: Tocpic-Comment sentences.

Hand out copies of the Unit 6 sentence patterns to your students. Challenge them to find examples of the topic-comment sentence pattern. Explain that the notation ___t indicates the topic (what the sentence is about) and that the eyebrows are raised.

Other glossing conventions
Point out other glossing conventions to the students. For example:

  • capital letters are used for words that have a sign
  • having a + after a sign indicates the number of repeats, as in BEAT ++++
  • IX refers to a pointing finger
  • IX-me indicates that the finger points to the person who is signing
  • the line above the glossing and the notation, for example, TIME WHATwhq, indicates a non-manual signal and, in this case, a wh-question.

Play Clip 6.2a: Congratulations and Clip 6.2b: What do you need? for the students to observe how these glossing conventions relate to the different ways the language is expressed.

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