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'Children are just lingual': The development of phonology in British Sign Language (BSL)

Morgan, G. (2006). 'Children are just lingual': The development of phonology in British Sign Language (BSL). Lingua, 116(10), pp. 1507-1523. doi: 10.1016/j.lingua.2005.07.010


This paper explores three universal tendencies in spoken language acquisition: consonant and vowel harmony, cluster reduction and systemic simplification, using a corpus of 1018 signs from a single child exposed to British Sign Language from birth. Child signs were recorded from naturalistic deaf parent-deaf child interaction between the ages of 19-24 months. Child errors were analysed by handshape, movement and location segments, as well as the accurate production of prosodic features, using an autosegmental phonology approach. Unadult like forms at this age were observed with 41% of handshapes, 45% of movements and 25% of locations. There were 47% of signs produced with unadult like prosodic features. Analysis of the results concludes that early child signing broadly follows proposed universal tendencies in language acquisition.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: sign language, phonology, development, ACQUISITION
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Language & Communication Science
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