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Title:Reading behaviors of deaf young adults: A study of the use of sign language and the resolution of reference in connected discourse
Author(s):Chrosniak, Patricia Natalie
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):McConkie, George W.
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Language, Linguistics
Education, Special
Education, Reading
Abstract:Reading requires the interaction of multiple factors. Among these are the reader's ability to make connections between his or her oral language and the written text. Recent research suggests that there is an important relationship between a reader's oral language competence and successfully deriving a coherent message from text. The purpose of this research was to understand the ways in which persons who are deaf construct meaning from written text given that their "oral" language is primarily sign language. The influence of American Sign Language (ASL) upon reading was explored by watching deaf young adults use sign language as they read connected discourse. Of particular interest were those places in the text where there occurred language structures that had distinct representations in English and in ASL. In this study the structures included personal pronouns and ellipsis. The influence to reading comprehension of knowing and using two different languages was assessed by accounting for those places in the text where the readers were seen using ASL when they were asked to sign merely in straight English word order and those places where the readers used straight English when asked to translate into ASL as they read.
The results demonstrate that the ability to read and derive a coherent message from text written in English depends upon the individual's English language competence. Those persons who have a degree of proficiency in both English and ASL, just like others who are bilingual in two spoken languages, have some flexibility in using one or the other language to help them understand written texts. Finally, one unpredicted finding in the study was that deaf young adults who may have had little exposure to ASL as they were growing up show patterns of acquiring ASL with respect to pronominal reference similar to child language acquisition for spoken languages.
Issue Date:1991
Rights Information:Copyright 1991 Chrosniak, Patricia Natalie
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9136570
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9136570

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