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Home arrow Language & Literature arrow Bilingualism and Deafness: On Language Contact in the Bilingual Acquisition of Sign Language and Written Language
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The syntax-discourse interface: on the orchestration of linguistic devices for

narrative purposes

The orchestration of linguistic devices for narrative purposes, as we learned in section 3.1.4 involves the task of integrating the knowledge attained at different levels of linguistic analysis and using it appropriately for different communicative purposes. Throughout the preceding sections we have learned that participants in this study have a command of the lexical, morphological, and syntactic properties of DGS (cf. Table 3.47 for an overview of the developmental profiles established). The question that imposes itself at this stage is how they exploit their linguistic resources for narrative purposes. In particular, we are interested in the mastery of those linguistic means that contribute to the creation of cohesion and coherence. In previous sections we already remarked on the participants’ progress regarding their mastery of several properties that involve the syntax-discourse interface.

In our discussion of repetitions, for example, we remarked that this phenomenon reflects the participants’ progressive attainment of narrative skills, as the repetitions they produce contribute to the creation of cohesion and coherence by providing further information on referents, goals or locations. Changes conTable 3.47: Overview of participants’ DGS profiles.*

Area

Syntax-discourse interface

CP

IP

VP

Participant

Spatial

relations

Referential

shift

Simultaneous

constructions

Referential

establishment

maintenance

Reference / forms / functions

WH

RF

EC

PAM[1]

CCl

detex

V-Infl

IP-

head

VP-

head

Muhammed

X

3

3

1

1

3

1

1

3

1

1

1

1

1

Simon

3

X

-

X

X

3

1

1

3

1

1

1

1

1

Maria

1

1

3

1

1

1

1

1

3

1

1

1

1

1

Fuad

1

3

-

3

3

3

3

1

3

3

1

1

3

3

Hamida

3

3

1

3

3

3

1

1

-

3

1

1

1

1

Christa

1

1

-

1

3

3

1

1

3

1

1

1

1

1

ceming the use of complex constructions, regarding their variety and their frequency, are also reflected at the level of narrative complexity. The expression of temporal relations via complex sentential formats derives more structured narrative accounts of the events described. As participants also start out to relate the emotions and thoughts of the protagonists involved by using psychological verbs, causal relations determining the story plot that remained implicit before are now expressed explicitly. These observations hold equally of the participants’ command of shifting referential frameworks and the linguistic means they use for reference maintenance: when mastered, co-reference and the appropriate use of referential shifts represent two linguistic phenomena that contribute significantly to an appropriate understanding of the narration produced.

The following sections are dedicated to the discussion of the main findings obtained in this respect. We will look first at the linguistic use of sign space for referential establishment and maintenance. We will then discuss the participants’ choice of reference forms and functions, before we finally turn to the intricate use of this space for the expression of spatial relations.

  • [1] Timing indicated through file numbers (Wh = Interrogation; RF = Referential shift; EC = embedded clauses; CCl = complex classifier constructions;detex = detexist -agreement; V-Infl = Verb inflection; IP-head = IP headedness final; VP-head = VP headedness final). X = partial mastery in file 3 (indicates inter-relation of referential shift, referential establishment and maintenance, reference forms / functions). - = no evidence, pam (examples occurwith target-deviant word order)
 
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