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Academic Paper


Title: The influence of visual feedback and register changes on sign language production: A kinematic study with deaf signers
Author: Karen Emmorey
Institution: San Diego State University
Author: Nelly Gertsberg
Institution: University of California
Author: Franco Korpics
Institution: San Diego State University
Author: Charles E. Wright
Institution: University of California
Linguistic Field: Applied Linguistics; Psycholinguistics
Abstract: Speakers monitor their speech output by listening to their own voice. However, signers do not look directly at their hands and cannot see their own face. We investigated the importance of a visual perceptual loop for sign language monitoring by examining whether changes in visual input alter sign production. Deaf signers produced American Sign Language (ASL) signs within a carrier phrase under five conditions: blindfolded, wearing tunnel-vision goggles, normal (citation) signing, shouting, and informal signing. Three-dimensional movement trajectories were obtained using an Optotrak Certus system. Informally produced signs were shorter with less vertical movement. Shouted signs were displaced forward and to the right and were produced within a larger volume of signing space, with greater velocity, greater distance traveled, and a longer duration. Tunnel vision caused signers to produce less movement within the vertical dimension of signing space, but blind and citation signing did not differ significantly on any measure, except duration. Thus, signers do not “sign louder” when they cannot see themselves, but they do alter their sign production when vision is restricted. We hypothesize that visual feedback serves primarily to fine-tune the size of signing space rather than as input to a comprehension-based monitor.

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This article appears IN Applied Psycholinguistics Vol. 30, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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