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J Deaf Stud Deaf Educ. 2016 Apr;21(2):213-21. doi: 10.1093/deafed/env056. Epub 2015 Dec 10.

Semantic Integration and Age of Acquisition Effects in Code-Blend Comprehension.

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Basque Center on Cognition, Brain, and Language and
San Diego State University.


Semantic and lexical decision tasks were used to investigate the mechanisms underlying code-blend facilitation: the finding that hearing bimodal bilinguals comprehend signs in American Sign Language (ASL) and spoken English words more quickly when they are presented together simultaneously than when each is presented alone. More robust facilitation effects were observed for semantic decision than for lexical decision, suggesting that lexical integration of signs and words within a code-blend occurs primarily at the semantic level, rather than at the level of form. Early bilinguals exhibited greater facilitation effects than late bilinguals for English (the dominant language) in the semantic decision task, possibly because early bilinguals are better able to process early visual cues from ASL signs and use these to constrain English word recognition. Comprehension facilitation via semantic integration of words and signs is consistent with co-speech gesture research demonstrating facilitative effects of gesture integration on language comprehension.

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