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Frequency and distribution of signs and sign proficiency in second language (L2) signers – a longitudinal and comparative study
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Linguistics, Swedish as a Second Language for the Deaf.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8579-0771
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Linguistics, Sign Language.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0612-6304
2019 (English)Conference paper, Poster (with or without abstract) (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Production of vocabulary is one of the essential components of language competence. However, no study has yet investigated the L2 acquisition of signs of any sign language in a broader sense. Such a study is motivated by the fact that vocabulary is a particularly interesting area in sign languages considering the categories of signs, i.e., sign types (see e.g. Johnston 2010). This paper examines the frequency and distribution of signs produced by L2 learners of Swedish Sign Language. In addition, we make an attempt to describe the sign proficiency and to track the development of L2 signs.

Earlier research on L2 sign acquisition has mostly focused upon phonological structures of signs (e.g. Bochner et al. 2011; Ortega & Morgan 2015; Rosen 2004), with some studies on other structures e.g. classifier constructions (Marshall & Morgan 2015). Due to our corpus-based data we are able to attempt a description of the frequency and distribution of signs, as well as L2 analysis of signs used by the learners. Our L2 analysis has included phonological, morphological and lexical analysis according to the complexity, accuracy and fluency (CAF) framework (Housen & Kuiken 2009), i.e., L2 signers’ proficiency is accounted through three components: degree of complexity, degree of accuracy and degree of fluency.

Sampled longitudinal corpus data from 16 adult L2 signers from the Swedish Sign Language as an L2 Corpus (SSLC-L2) (Schönström & Mesch 2017) was analyzed. Two kinds of data were included: dialogue data based on interviews, and retellings of a movie clip. This was compared with data from 9 L1 signers.

We provide results outlining the distribution and frequency of signs in L2 signers at two different time points in their development as well a comparison with L1 signers with regard to distribution and frequency of (1) signs, (2) sign types and (3) parts of speech. For example, with regard to the verbs, it was revealed that the proportion of lexical verb signs increases with time while the proportion of depicting signs remains the same. We discuss this in light of the contributing role of gesture in L2 sign production, as the line between some depicting signs (e.g. handling handshapes) and gestures is not always crystal clear. With regard to sign proficiency according to the CAF framework, the results revealed, among other things, that phonological errors are common, and in line with results provided by earlier research which suggest a learning order in which location parameter is acquired before handshape and movement parameters.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019.
Keywords [en]
L2 acquisition, Swedish Sign Language, vocabulary
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Research subject
Sign Language
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-175349OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-175349DiVA, id: diva2:1362595
Conference
TISLR13, the 13th conference of Theoretical Issues in Sign Language Research, Hamburg, Germany, 26-28 September, 2019
Funder
Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, P16-0371:1Available from: 2019-10-21 Created: 2019-10-21 Last updated: 2019-10-21Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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