American Sign Language (ASL) and English differ in linguistic resources available to express visual-spatial information. In a referential communication task, we examined the effect of language modality on the creation and mutual acceptance of reference to non-nameable figures. In both languages, description times reduced over iterations and references to the figures' geometric properties ("shape-based reference") declined over time in favor of expressions describing the figures' resemblance to nameable objects ("analogy-based reference"). ASL signers maintained a preference for shape-based reference until the final (sixth) round, while English speakers transitioned toward analogy-based reference by Round 3. Analogy-based references were more time efficient (associated with shorter round description times). Round completion times were longer for ASL than for English, possibly due to gaze demands of the task and/or to more shape-based descriptions. Signers' referring expressions remained unaffected by figure complexity while speakers preferred analogy-based expressions for complex figures and shape-based expressions for simple figures. Like speech, co-speech gestures decreased over iterations. Gestures primarily accompanied shape-based references, but listeners rarely looked at these gestures, suggesting that they were recruited to aid the speaker rather than the addressee. Overall, different linguistic resources (classifier constructions vs. geometric vocabulary) imposed distinct demands on referring strategies in ASL and English.
Keywords: Cognition; Language Production; Signed Languages.
Comparing action gestures and classifier verbs of motion: evidence from Australian Sign Language, Taiwan Sign Language, and nonsigners' gestures without speech.J Deaf Stud Deaf Educ. 2005 Summer;10(3):272-90. doi: 10.1093/deafed/eni029. Epub 2005 Apr 27. J Deaf Stud Deaf Educ. 2005. PMID: 15858072
Visible cohesion: a comparison of reference tracking in sign, speech, and co-speech gesture.Top Cogn Sci. 2015 Jan;7(1):36-60. doi: 10.1111/tops.12122. Epub 2014 Dec 4. Top Cogn Sci. 2015. PMID: 25472492
Does language shape silent gesture?Cognition. 2016 Mar;148:10-8. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2015.12.001. Epub 2015 Dec 18. Cognition. 2016. PMID: 26707427 Free PMC article.
Gesture, sign, and language: The coming of age of sign language and gesture studies.Behav Brain Sci. 2017 Jan;40:e46. doi: 10.1017/S0140525X15001247. Epub 2015 Oct 5. Behav Brain Sci. 2017. PMID: 26434499 Free PMC article. Review.
Working Memory for Linguistic and Non-linguistic Manual Gestures: Evidence, Theory, and Application.Front Psychol. 2018 May 15;9:679. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00679. eCollection 2018. Front Psychol. 2018. PMID: 29867655 Free PMC article. Review.
Cited by 1 article
The time course of priming in aphasia: An exploration of learning along a continuum of linguistic processing demands.Top Lang Disord. 2020 Jan-Mar;40(1):54-80. doi: 10.1097/TLD.0000000000000205. Top Lang Disord. 2020. PMID: 32103849