ERIC Number: ED223071
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982
Reference Count: 0
The Acquisition of Three Morphological Systems in American Sign Language.
Bellugi, Ursula; Klima, Edward S.
Discoveries about the acquisition of American Sign Language (ASL) by deaf children are reviewed. Current research shows that ASL has developed as a fully autonomous language with complex organizational properties not derived from spoken language. Like spoken languages, ASL exhibits formal structuring at two levels and similar organizational principles, but its grammatical structuring assumes a form deeply rooted in the modality of the language. Sign languages are strongly representational, yet fully grammaticized. They exhibit layered rather than linear organization and make structured use of space and movement, nesting the basic sign in spatial patterns and complex dynamic contours of movement. In order to explore the existence of modality effects in acquisition, the acquisition of three morphological subsystems among young deaf children is examined: the transition from gesture to sign, the spatial marking for verb agreement, and the formal distinction between nouns and verbs. It is concluded that children develop signed or spoken language in a similar manner. Language, independent of its transmission mechanism, develops in a rapid, patterned, and linguistically driven way. Illustrations of child and adult sign language and a bibliography are provided. (RW)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Stanford Univ., CA. Dept. of Linguistics.
Note: In its: Papers and Reports on Child Language Development, Number 21, pK1-K35.