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Academic Paper


Title: Language Impairments in the Development of Sign: Do They Reside in a Specific Modality or are They Modality-Independent Deficits?
Author: Bencie Woll
Email: click here TO access email
Homepage: http://www.city.ac.uk/lcs
Institution: University College London
Author: Gary Morgan
Institution: City University London
Linguistic Field: Cognitive Science
Subject LANGUAGE Family: Sign Language
Abstract: Various theories of developmental language impairments have sought to explain these impairments in modality-specific ways– for example, that the language deficits in SLI or Down syndrome arise from impairments in auditory processing. Studies of signers with language impairments, especially those who are bilingual in a spoken language as well as a sign language, provide a unique opportunity to contrast abilities across language in two modalities (cross-modal bilingualism). The aim of the article is to examine what developmental sign language impairments can tell us about the relationship between language impairments and modality. A series of individual and small group studies are presented here illustrating language impairments in sign language users and cross-modal bilinguals, comprising Landau-Kleffner syndrome, Williams syndrome, Down syndrome, Autism and SLI. We conclude by suggesting how studies of sign language impairments can assist researchers to explore how different language impairments originate from different parts of the cognitive, linguistic and perceptual systems.

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This article appears IN Bilingualism: Language and Cognition Vol. 15, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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