Sign advantage: Both children and adults’ spatial expressions in sign are more informative than those in speech and gestures combined
Karadöller, D. Z., Sumer, B., Ünal, E., & Ozyurek, A.
Sign advantage: Both children and adults’ spatial expressions in sign are more informative than those in speech and gestures combined. Journal of Child Language. Advance online publication
Expressing Left-Right relations is challenging for speaking-children. Yet, this challenge was absent for signing-children, possibly due to iconicity in the visual-spatial modality of expression. We investigate whether there is also a modality advantage when speaking-children’s co-speech gestures are considered. Eight-year-old child and adult hearing monolingual Turkish speakers and deaf signers of Turkish-Sign-Language described pictures of objects in various spatial relations. Descriptions were coded for informativeness in speech, sign, and speech-gesture combinations for encoding Left-Right relations. The use of co-speech gestures increased the informativeness of speakers’ spatial expressions compared to speech-only. This pattern was more prominent for children than adults. However, signing-adults and children were more informative than child and adult speakers even when co-speech gestures were considered. Thus, both speaking- and signing-children benefit from iconic expressions in visual modality. Finally, in each modality, children were less informative than adults, pointing to the challenge of this spatial domain in development.
Share this page