Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

Perceptual categorization of handling handshapes in British Sign Language

  • ZED SEVCIKOVA SEHYR (a1) and KEARSY CORMIER (a2)
Abstract
<span class='sc'>abstract</span>

Sign languages like British Sign Language (BSL) include partially lexicalized constructions depicting object handling or manipulation – handling constructions. Object sizes gradiently vary, yet it is unclear whether handling handshapes depict handled objects categorically or gradiently. This study investigates the influence of sign language experience on perception of handling handshapes. Deaf signers and hearing non-signers completed perceptual handshape identification and discrimination tasks. We examined whether deaf BSL signers perceived handshape continua categorically or continuously compared with hearing non-signers, and whether reaction times were modulated by linguistic representations. The results revealed similar binary categorization of dynamically presented handling handshapes as deaf and hearing perceivers displayed higher discrimination accuracy on category boundaries, and lower, but above chance, within-category discrimination, suggesting that perceptual categorization was not uniquely mediated by linguistic experience. However, RTs revealed critical differences between groups in processing times; deaf signers’ RTs reflected stronger category bias and increased sensitivity to boundaries, suggesting underlying linguistic representations. Further, handshape variability within categories influenced deaf signers’ discrimination RTs in a manner that suggested graded category organization, with handshape prototype grounding the category. These findings provide an insight into the internal organization of handling handshapes and highlight the complex relationship between sign language, cognition, and gesture.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Z. Sevcikova Sehyr, San Diego State University Research Foundation; Laboratory for Language and Cognitive Neuroscience, 6495 Alvarado Road, Suite 200, San Diego, CA 92120. e-mail: zsevcikova@mail.sdsu.edu
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

A. S Abramson . (1961). Identification and discrimination of phonemic tones. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 33(6), 842.

S. Baker , W. J. Idsdardi , R. M. Golinkoff , & L Petitto . (2005). The perception of handshapes in American Sign Language. Memory & Cognition, 33(5), 887904.

L. W Barsalou . (1999). Perceptual symbol systems. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 22, 577660.

J. M. Beale , & F. C Keil . (1995). Categorical effects in the perception of faces. Cognition, 57, 217239.

K. T. Best , G. Mathur , K. A. Miranda , & D Lillo-Martin . (2010). Effects of sign language experience on categorical perception of dynamic ASL pseudosigns. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 72(3), 747762.

D. Brentari , M. Coppola , L. Mazzoni , & S Goldin-Meadow . (2012). When does a system become phonological? Handshape production in gesturers, signers, and homesigners. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, 30, 130.

P. Eccarius , & D Brentari . (2010). A formal analysis of phonological contrast and iconicity in sign language handshapes. Sign Language & Linguistics, 13(2), 156181.

K. Emmorey , S. McCullough , & D Brentari . (2003). Categorical perception in American Sign Language. Language & Cognitive Processes, 18(1), 245.

A. M Glenberg . (1997). What memory is for. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 20, 155.

S. Goldin-Meadow , C. Mylander , & C Butcher . (1995). The resilience of combinatorial structure at the word level: morphology in self-styled gesture systems. Cognition, 56, 195262.

A Kendon . (2004). Gesture: visible action as utterance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

G Lakoff . (1987). Women, fire, and dangerous things: what categories reveal about the mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

A. M. Liberman , K. Harris , H. S. Horffmann , & B Griffith . (1957). The discrimination of speech sounds within and across phoneme boundaries. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 54, 358368.

A. M. Liberman , K. Harris , J. A. Kinney , & H Lane . (1961). The discrimination of relative onset-time of the components of certain speech and nonspeech patterns. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 61, 379388.

S. K Liddell . (2003a). Grammar, gesture, and meaning in American Sign Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

B. H McDonald . (1982). Aspects of the American Sign Language predicate system. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Buffalo.

E. H Rosch . (1973). On the internal structure of perceptual and semantic categories. In T. E. Moore (Ed.), Cognitive development and the acquisition of language (pp. 111144). New York: Academic Press.

E. H Rosch . (1975). Cognitive representations of semantic categories. Journal of Experimental Psychology General, 104, 192232.

E. H. Rosch , & C. B Mervis . (1975). Family resemblances – studies in internal structure of categories. Cognitive Psychology, 7(4), 573605.

E. H. Rosch , C. B. Mervis , W. D. Gray , D. M. Johnson , & P Boyes-Braem . (1976). Basic objects in natural categories. Cognitive Psychology, 8, 382439.

S. Rosen , & P Howell . (1987). Explanations of categorical perception in speech. In S. Harnad (Ed.), Categorical perception: the groundwork of cognition. New York: Cambridge University Press.

A Schembri . (1996). The structure and formation of signs in Auslan (Australian Sign Language). Sydney: North Rocks Press.

D. Slobin , N. Hoiting , M. Kuntze , R. Lindert , A. Weinberg , J. Pyers , … H Thumann . (2003). A cognitive/functional perspective on the acquisition of ‘classifiers’. In K. Emmorey (Ed.), Perspectives on classifier constructions in sign languages (pp. 271296). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

G. Thierry , P. Athanasopoulos , A. Wiggett , B. Dering , & J Kuipers . (2009). Unconscious effects of language-specific terminology on preattentive color perception. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106(11), 45674570.

J. F. Werker , & R. C Tees . (1983). Developmental changes across childhood in the perception of non-native speech sounds. Canadian Journal of Psychology, 37, 278286.

I Zwitserlood . (2003). Classifying hand configurations in Nederlandse Gebarentaal (Sign Language of the Netherlands). Utrecht: LOT.

M. Studdert-Kennedy , A. M. Liberman , & K. N Stevens . (1963). Reaction time to synthetic stop consonants and vowels at phoneme centers and at phoneme boundaries. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 35, 1900 (Abstract).

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Language and Cognition
  • ISSN: 1866-9808
  • EISSN: 1866-9859
  • URL: /core/journals/language-and-cognition
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords:

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 7
Total number of PDF views: 37 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 238 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 27th May 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.