New paper in Language, Cognition and Neuroscience: Cross-modal investigation of event component omissions in language development: a comparison of signing and speaking children by Beyza Sümer & Asli Özyürek

Language development research suggests a universal tendency for children to be under-informative in narrating motion events by omitting components such as Path, Manner or Ground. However, this assumption has not been tested for children acquiring sign language. In this study, Beyza Sümer & Asli Özyürek investigated whether and in which ways language modality modulates learning to encode different semantic components of a motion event in Turkish Sign Language (Türk İşaret Dili [TİD]) and Turkish, a verb-framed spoken language.

Authors hypothesised that due to the affordances of the visual-spatial modality of sign languages for iconic expression, signing children might omit event components less frequently than speaking children. Thus, in the present study Beyza Sümer & Asli Özyürek analysed motion event descriptions elicited from deaf children (4–10 years) acquiring Turkish Sign Language (TİD) and their Turkish-speaking peers. Results showed that while children omitted all types of event components more often than adults, signing children and adults encoded more Path and Manner in TİD than their peers in Turkish. These results provide more evidence for a general universal tendency for children to omit event components as well as a modality bias for sign languages to encode both Manner and Path more frequently than spoken languages.

Curious to learn more? You can read the paper here.