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Second language acquisition of American Sign Language influences co-speech gesture production

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 May 2019

Jill Weisberg*
Affiliation:
Laboratory for Language and Cognitive Neuroscience, San Diego State University
Shannon Casey
Affiliation:
Laboratory for Language and Cognitive Neuroscience, San Diego State University
Zed Sevcikova Sehyr
Affiliation:
Laboratory for Language and Cognitive Neuroscience, San Diego State University
Karen Emmorey
Affiliation:
Laboratory for Language and Cognitive Neuroscience, San Diego State University
*
Address for correspondence: Jill Weisberg, E-mail: jillwneuro@gmail.com

Abstract

Previous work indicates that 1) adults with native sign language experience produce more manual co-speech gestures than monolingual non-signers, and 2) one year of ASL instruction increases gesture production in adults, but not enough to differentiate them from non-signers. To elucidate these effects, we asked early ASL–English bilinguals, fluent late second language (L2) signers (≥ 10 years of experience signing), and monolingual non-signers to retell a story depicted in cartoon clips to a monolingual partner. Early and L2 signers produced manual gestures at higher rates compared to non-signers, particularly iconic gestures, and used a greater variety of handshapes. These results indicate susceptibility of the co-speech gesture system to modification by extensive sign language experience, regardless of the age of acquisition. L2 signers produced more ASL signs and more handshape varieties than early signers, suggesting less separation between the ASL lexicon and the co-speech gesture system for L2 signers.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2019

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