Naming in Two Modalities: Manual and Mouth Gestures in Hearing and Deaf Children

Sabina Fontana, Elena Tomasuolo, Gabriele Gianfreda


Studies on various sign languages have pointed out that some kind of mouth action co-occur in sign language utterances together with other body components. Although the consistency of such phenomenon has been studied in adult signing, no research has been conducted so far on the mouth actions occurring in the signing of school-aged children. In this paper, mouth actions will be described in a developmental perspective and paralleled with co-speech gestures of hearing children. In particular, mouth actions and manual gestures will be investigated in two groups of 10 bilingual Italian/Italian Sign Language (LIS) deaf and hearing children (from 6 to 14 yrs old) by using a naming task. The aim is to parallel quantitatively and qualitatively mouth actions and co-verbal gestures in order to understand their role with respect to sign and vocal naming. Furthermore, three adult signers were considered as models for understanding the typology and occurrence of mouth action in adult signing and compare it with children signing.

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Copyright (c) 2022 Sabina Fontana, Elena Tomasuolo, Gabriele Gianfreda

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International Journal of Linguistics  ISSN 1948-5425  Email:

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