Children’s Detection of Sign Language Iconicity
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Series/Report no.:2016 Fall Undergraduate Research Student Poster Forum. 10th
Evidence suggests that some signs across different sign-languages are iconic, meaning that it may be possible for non-signers to comprehend the meaning of the sign regardless of prior sign language knowledge (Strickland et al. 2015). This particular study will investigate children’s recognition of iconicity in different sign languages using lexical aspect. Aspect refers to the different ways of viewing time-based characteristics of situations. Telic verbs denote an event with an inherent endpoint (e.g., sell) and are typically signed with an abrupt endpoint. Atelic verbs denote an event without an inherent endpoint (e.g., run) and are typically signed with repetition. Recent research from notes that adult non-signers were able to interpret telicity within varying sign languages (Strickland et al., 2015). However, the reasoning behind their understanding is unclear. Adults may be naturally proficient at expressing telicity within sign-languages. Or, perhaps adults have had a significant exposure to non-sign language gestures or a high proficiency of problem solving skills. The current study investigates whether five year-old children can also detect telicity in signs and whether gender affects accuracy. Gender differences may exist when performing cognitive tasks between the ages of 5 and 6 (Panasevich & Tsitseroshin, 2015). If children succeed, it will provide evidence that iconicity exists within sign languages. Results imply that children, regardless of gender, do comprehend telicity within Italian Sign Language (LIS). Children succeeded at finding iconicity within telic t(23)=3.08, p<.005 and atelic t(23)=9.29, p < .001 verbs. Atelic signs were simpler to detect compared to telic verbs, t(23)=2.08, p = .049, and boys and girls performed equally on this task (n.s.). The average length for telic signs were 1.03 seconds long and the average length for atelic signs were 1.69 seconds long. We discuss the possibility that children comprehend atelic signs more accurately compared to telic signs due to the longer duration of the atelic signs.
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Academic Major: Psychology
The National Science Foundation
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