The acquisition of Sign Language: The impact of phonetic complexity on phonology

Mann, W., Marshall, C. R., Mason, K. & Morgan, G. (2010). The acquisition of Sign Language: The impact of phonetic complexity on phonology. Language Learning and Development, 6(1), pp. 60-86. doi: 10.1080/15475440903245951

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Abstract

Research into the effect of phonetic complexity on phonological acquisition has a long history in spoken languages. This paper considers the effect of phonetics on phonological development in a signed language. We report on an experiment in which nonword-repetition methodology was adapted so as to examine in a systematic way how phonetic complexity in two phonological parameters of signed languages — handshape and movement — affects the perception and articulation of signs. Ninety-one Deaf children aged 3–11 acquiring British Sign Language (BSL) and 46 hearing nonsigners aged 6–11 repeated a set of 40 nonsense signs. For Deaf children, repetition accuracy improved with age, correlated with wider BSL abilities, and was lowest for signs that were phonetically complex. Repetition accuracy was correlated with fine motor skills for the youngest children. Despite their lower repetition accuracy, the hearing group were similarly affected by phonetic complexity, suggesting that common visual and motoric factors are at play when processing linguistic information in the visuo-gestural modality.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an electronic version of an article published as Mann, W. & Marshall, C. R. & Mason, K. and Morgan, G. (2010). The acquisition of Sign Language: The impact of phonetic complexity on phonology. Language Learning and Development, 6 (1). 60 - 86. doi: 10.1080/15475440903245951 Language Learning and Development is available online at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15475440903245951
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Divisions: School of Health Sciences > Department of Language & Communication Science
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/362

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