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The role of hearing signers in the development of channel specific structures in sign languages of deaf communities

In this project, the hypothesis that language contact crucially impacts the development of spatial grammar and phonology is investigated.

Sign languages of deaf communities share formal characteristics specific to signing (Aronoff et al. 2004). Recent studies on emerging sign languages shed light on how these features emerge (Kegl et al. 1999). These studies claim that the language capacity of children was crucial for the development of language-like features. Sharing structural features with the early stages of emerging sign languages, the sign language of Adamorobe, a village with a long history of hereditary deafness, shows that the multi-generational acquisition by children is no guarantee for the development of the typical sign language structures (Nyst, 2007). In Nyst (2007). We propose it is rather the sociolinguistic setting of Adamorobe Sign Language that accounts for its structural features.

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