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How do Deaf children of non-signing parents go about the process of assigning signs to their referents? It seems that much like hearing children, they initially use signs in their everyday conversations that do not always mean the referents they were intended to mean. The findings presented here are the result of six case studies of semantic development over a period of 15 months of children ranging in age from six to sixteen who were raised without sign language and had no instruction in sign language until being placed in a New York City school where sign language was used. Mismatches between sign and referent provided the data from which to hypothesize possible strategies that the children were using in learning to mean.


This work was originally published in Proceedings of the Third International Symposium on Sign Language Research.



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