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J Deaf Stud Deaf Educ. 2013 Summer;18(3):370-90. doi: 10.1093/deafed/ent020. Epub 2013 May 12.

Predicate structures, gesture, and simultaneity in the representation of action in British Sign Language: evidence from deaf children and adults.

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Deafness, Cognition and Language Research Centre, University College London, 49 Gordon Square, London, UK.


British Sign Language (BSL) signers use a variety of structures, such as constructed action (CA), depicting constructions (DCs), or lexical verbs, to represent action and other verbal meanings. This study examines the use of these verbal predicate structures and their gestural counterparts, both separately and simultaneously, in narratives by deaf children with various levels of exposure to BSL (ages 5;1 to 7;5) and deaf adult native BSL signers. Results reveal that all groups used the same types of predicative structures, including children with minimal BSL exposure. However, adults used CA, DCs, and/or lexical signs simultaneously more frequently than children. These results suggest that simultaneous use of CA with lexical and depicting predicates is more complex than the use of these predicate structures alone and thus may take deaf children more time to master.

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