In or Out? Spatial scale and enactment in narratives of native and non-native signing deaf children acquiring British Sign language

Sandra D Smith, Kearsy A Cormier

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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    Abstract

    Age of sign language acquisition effects have been found at various levels of linguistic structure, and also in cognitive abilities such as perspective taking. The current study investigates two aspects of perspective taking in BSL narratives by 4 deaf native signing children and 4 non-native signing children ages 8-10, via use of spatial scale – character (large) scale vs. observer (small) scale - and enactment (i.e. constructed action). Results show that all children from both groups use constructed action in character space (i.e. fully “in” the character space); this points to the primacy of enactment in all children early in development. Two deaf children from hearing families used observer scale with constructed action, but no deaf children from deaf families did. Likewise, three deaf children from deaf families used character scale without constructed action, but no deaf children from hearing families did. The differences between the two groups suggest that complex uses of perspective taking require very early exposure to a sign language.
    Keywords: scale, perspective, character, observer, constructed action
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages34
    JournalJournal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2013

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