Research & Scholarly Achievement
at Gallaudet University

Comprehension of text in ASL: Impact of linguistic complexity

ID: 3432
Status: Ongoing
Start date: October 2017
End Date: September 2019


It is important to know how American Sign Language (ASL) may be modified to match the language ability of a targeted population before material may be developed for a videotext publication. Right now there is no empirical basis for determining how ASL may be linguistically manipulated for a specific comprehension level. The literature on the relationship between linguistic complexity and comprehension is broad and a lot of it is related to reading. There is limited discussion on the relationship between comprehension and linguistic complexity of ASL. A few lines of research led us to hypothesize that syntactic and morphological complexity are respectively good areas to start the investigation. One line of research comes from language development studies. For example, Morgan et al., 2002, discuss morphologically complex verbs, and Slobin et al., 2003, tried to investigate the development of complexity in classifiers. Another line of research comes from the relationship between age of ASL acquisition and grammatical knowledge of ASL. This study proposes to investigate how comprehension may be affected on the sentential level by varying the syntactic structure of two-clause sentences and the morphological complexity of classifiers.

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