Evaluative expression in deaf children's written narratives
until further notice
SourceInternational Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 44, 5, (2009), pp. 675-692
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI OLO
International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders
SubjectLearning and Plasticity
Background: Deaf children vary in the use of and proficiency in signed language. The majority of studies on writing skills of children who are deaf did not assess deaf children's proficiency in signed language and/or grouped together deaf children with varying sign language skills. Aims: Adopting a bimodal bilingual perspective, we examined evaluative expression, an important narrative tool in both oral/written languages and signed languages, in narratives written in Dutch by deaf children who are proficient in Sign Language of the Netherlands (SLN) and deaf children who are low-proficient in SLN, and hearing monolingual and bilingual children. We hypothesized that deaf children who are proficient in signed language use their knowledge of evaluative expression in signed language to enrich their narratives in written Dutch, and more so than deaf children who are low-proficient in signed language and hearing monolingual and bilingual children. Methods & Procedures: We examined the use of eight different evaluative devices in narratives written by deaf proficiently and low-proficiently signing children, and hearing monolingual and bilingual children. Narratives were also examined for morpho-syntactic errors and use of complex sentences. Outcomes & Results: The results show that proficiently signing deaf children's narratives contain more evaluative devices that enrich the referential structure of the narrative than narratives of low-proficiently signing deaf children, and hearing bilingual and monolingual children. Conclusions & Implications: We propose that proficiently signing deaf children use their knowledge of SLN to convey evaluation in their written narratives, and thus have an advantage in enriching their narratives. This study also shows that in order to gain insight into deaf people's writing, it is important to take variations in sign language proficiency into account.
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