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Academic Paper

Title: Cross-language effects in written word recognition: The case of bilingual deaf children
Author: Ellen A. Ormel
Institution: Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen
Author: Daan Hermans
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen
Author: Harry Knoors
Institution: Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen
Author: Ludo Verhoeven
Institution: Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition; Psycholinguistics
Subject LANGUAGE Family: Sign Language
Abstract: In recent years, multiple studies have shown that the languages of a bilingual interact during processing. We investigated sign activation as deaf children read words. In a word–picture verification task, we manipulated the underlying sign equivalents. We presented children with word–picture pairs for which the sign translation equivalents varied with respect to sign phonology overlap (i.e., handshape, movement, hand-palm orientation, and location) and sign iconicity (i.e., transparent depiction of meaning or not). For the deaf children, non-matching word–picture pairs with sign translation equivalents that had highly similar elements (i.e., strong sign phonological relations) showed relatively longer response latencies and more errors than non-matching word–picture pairs without sign phonological relations (inhibitory effects). In contrast, matching word–picture pairs with strongly iconic sign translation equivalents showed relatively shorter response latencies and fewer errors than pairs with weakly iconic translation equivalents (facilitatory effects). No such activation effects were found in the word–picture verification task for the hearing children. The results provide evidence for interactive cross-language processing in deaf children.


This article appears IN Bilingualism: Language and Cognition Vol. 15, Issue 2, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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