Home
This Title All WIREs
WIREs RSS Feed
How to cite this WIREs title:
WIREs Cogn Sci
Impact Factor: 2.218

Visual sign phonology: insights into human reading and language from a natural soundless phonology

Full article on Wiley Online Library:   HTML PDF

Can't access this content? Tell your librarian.

Among the most prevailing assumptions in science and society about the human reading process is that sound and sound‐based phonology are critical to young readers. The child's sound‐to‐letter decoding is viewed as universal and vital to deriving meaning from print. We offer a different view. The crucial link for early reading success is not between segmental sounds and print. Instead the human brain's capacity to segment, categorize, and discern linguistic patterning makes possible the capacity to segment all languages. This biological process includes the segmentation of languages on the hands in signed languages. Exposure to natural sign language in early life equally affords the child's discovery of silent segmental units in visual sign phonology (VSP) that can also facilitate segmental decoding of print. We consider powerful biological evidence about the brain, how it builds sound and sign phonology, and why sound and sign phonology are equally important in language learning and reading. We offer a testable theoretical account, reading model, and predictions about how VSP can facilitate segmentation and mapping between print and meaning. We explain how VSP can be a powerful facilitator of all children's reading success (deaf and hearing)—an account with profound transformative impact on learning to read in deaf children with different language backgrounds. The existence of VSP has important implications for understanding core properties of all human language and reading, challenges assumptions about language and reading as being tied to sound, and provides novel insight into a remarkable biological equivalence in signed and spoken languages. WIREs Cogn Sci 2016, 7:366‐381. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1404

Open/Closed (C‐V) syllable structure for the ASL sign ‘CAT.’
[ Normal View | Magnified View ]
A model of the core components of reading in young sign exposed deaf children. The model identifies the relations among Universal Phonology, the sub‐lexical level of language organization, inclusive of a soundless visual sign phonology, and the multiple components hypothesized to be involved in deriving meaning from print in the emergent reader.
[ Normal View | Magnified View ]
Harm and Seidenberg's model of reading.
[ Normal View | Magnified View ]
Conjunction maps projected onto a template brain, showing overlapping regions of activation for fingerspelled words and printed words in deaf readers.
[ Normal View | Magnified View ]
Voxel‐based morphometry analyses showing preservation of gray and white matter volumes in deaf participants' in primary auditory tissue, Heschl's gyrus, and secondary auditory tissue, STG/planum temporale, compared with hearing participants. Gray matter volumes show that the location, extent, and variability are the same across both groups (deaf and hearing). Results indicate that the development and maintenance of auditory tissue does not depend on auditory language experience.
[ Normal View | Magnified View ]
PET MRI data for pooled comparison including all conditions in which signs or linguistically organized phonetic‐syllabic nonsigns were presented compared with baseline for all deaf participants. Results indicate phonological processing in the STG for deaf signers.
[ Normal View | Magnified View ]
Distribution of the frequencies of sign‐exposed and speech‐exposed babies’ movement segments, clearly indicating that the sign‐exposed group of babies was producing two distinct types of hand activity (babbling and nonlinguistic motoric activity).
[ Normal View | Magnified View ]

Related Articles

One grammar or two? Sign Languages and the Nature of Human Language
Connectionist perspectives on language learning, representation and processing
Language and brain

Browse by Topic

Psychology > Language

Access to this WIREs title is by subscription only.

Recommend to Your
Librarian Now!

The latest WIREs articles in your inbox

Sign Up for Article Alerts

Twitter: WileyPsychology Follow us on Twitter

    How do emotional expression and viewpoint influence our first impressions of individuals? https://t.co/eRqd1Chl6b @BPSOfficial
    The promise of a better group future: Cognitive alternatives increase students’ academic performance https://t.co/JoFoCOpMeO @BPSOfficial