Document Detail

Thought before language: how deaf and hearing children express motion events across cultures.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  12127697     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Do children come to the language-learning situation with a predetermined set of ideas about motion events that they want to communicate? If so, is the expression of these ideas modified by exposure to a language model within a particular cultural context? We explored these questions by comparing the gestures produced by Chinese and American deaf children who had not been exposed to a usable conventional language model with the speech of hearing children learning Mandarin or English. We found that, even in the absence of any conventional language model, deaf children conveyed the central elements of a motion event in their communications. More surprisingly, deaf children growing up in an American culture used their gestures to express motion events in precisely the same ways as deaf children growing up in a Chinese culture. In contrast, hearing children in the two cultures expressed motion events differently, in accordance with the languages they were learning. The American children obeyed the patterns of English and rarely omitted words for figures or agents. The Chinese children had more flexibility as Mandarin permits (but does not demand) deletion. Interestingly, the Chinese hearing children's descriptions of motion events resembled the deaf children's descriptions more closely than did the American hearing children's. The thoughts that deaf children convey in their gestures thus may serve as the starting point and perhaps a default for all children as they begin the process of grammaticization--thoughts that have not yet been filtered through a language model.
Mingyu Zheng; Susan Goldin-Meadow
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Comparative Study; Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Cognition     Volume:  85     ISSN:  0010-0277     ISO Abbreviation:  Cognition     Publication Date:  2002 Sep 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2002-07-19     Completed Date:  2002-11-12     Revised Date:  2007-11-14    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0367541     Medline TA:  Cognition     Country:  Netherlands    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  145-75     Citation Subset:  IM    
Department of Psychology, University of Chicago, 5848 South University Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Child, Preschool
Communication Methods, Total*
Cross-Cultural Comparison*
Deafness / psychology*
Language Development*
Sign Language
United States
Verbal Learning
Grant Support

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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