General programme, activity sheet

Thursday 18 September, 2014 15:00 to 15:30 Oral presentation
On the comprehension and production of passive sentences by a set of Italian-speaking hearing impaired male twins
Authors: Michela Franceschini, Francesca Volpato

This study investigates the comprehension and production of passive sentences in a set of orally-trained male twins (SA and SB) with mild-to-moderate sensorineural hearing loss tested in two different moments (2011-age: 7;6; 2013-age: 9;0). Hearing impairment strongly limits the quantity and the quality of the linguistic input available to deaf people. Consequently, the acquisition of some linguistic properties can be delayed in people with any degree of hearing loss (Friedmann& Szterman,2006;Delage&Tuller,2007;Chesi,2006). Passive sentences are complex structures characterized by a marked word order and long-distance dependencies between sentence constituents. They are frequent in school texts and fairy tales and are often problematic for different populations. Since research on deaf people is scarce for Italian, the analysis aims at determining whether the children show the same level of linguistic competence, and whether and to what extent their performance differs from that of normal hearing (NH) children. The comprehension was assessed by using a picture matching task and the production was tested by using an elicitation task (Verin,2010). Results show that despite the same degree of hearing loss (PTA) and the same (family) background, some differences between the twins’ performances are observed. The comparison with normal hearing children (Volpato et al.,2013) showed that overall, the subjects have a good level in comprehension, especially with actional verbs (see table 1). The longitudinal investigation highlights an improvement in passive sentences comprehension for both children. Despite a good level of comprehension, neither of them produced passive sentences in 2011, nor in 2013. They adopted instead other grammatical and ungrammatical strategies in order to avoid the passive constructions. Even though the two children did not show a full proficiency in passive sentences, the fact that they obtained positive results in the comprehension test demonstrates that at the age of 9, they have access to these syntactic structures. Actional verbs Non-actional verbs SA 7;6 2011 88% 25% SA 9;0 2013 96% 63% SB 7;6 2011 79% 19% SB 9;0 2013 100% 69% NH1 3;4-3;11 82% 61% NH2 4;0-4;8 76% 56% NH3 4;9-5;5 94% 59% NH4 5;6-6;2 97% 78% Table 1: Percentage of correct answers in the comprehension task of each deaf participant and the control group(s) References Chesi, C., 2006. Il linguaggio verbale non standard dei bambini sordi. EUR, Roma. Delage, H., Tuller, L., 2007. Language development and mild-to-moderate hearing loss: does language normalize with age? Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, 50. Friedmann, N., Szterman, R., 2006. Syntactic movement in orally-trained children with hearing impairment. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education 11. Verin L. (2010). Le frasi passive in età prescolare: un test di comprensione e produzione e un’esperienza di lettura ad alta voce. Graduation Thesis. Venice University. Volpato, F., Verin, L., Tagliaferro, L., Cardinaletti A. (2013). The comprehension of (eventive) verbal passives by Italian preschool age children. In Advances in Language Acquisition. Proceedings of GALA (Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition) 2011, Thessaloniki. Cambridge Scholar Publishing.
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