Argument omissions by deaf students in three languages and three modalities

Rose Stamp, Rama Novogrodsky, Sabrin Shaban-Rabah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While it is common for deaf children to be bilingual in a spoken and signed language, studies often attribute any delays in language acquisition to language deprivation, rather than as a result of cross-linguistic interaction. This study compares the production of simple sentences in three languages (Palestinian Arabic, Modern Standard Arabic, and Israeli Sign Language [ISL]) and three language modalities (spoken, written, and signed) by deaf and hearing students in an Arabic-speaking community. Thirty-eight school-age Palestinian Arabic–speaking students participated in a sentence elicitation task in which they retold the events portrayed in video clips. Hearing students (n = 19) produced the sentences in spoken Palestinian Arabic and in written Modern Standard Arabic. Deaf students (n = 19) produced the sentences in these two language varieties and additionally in ISL. Omissions of arguments and verbs were compared across the two groups and three languages. Results showed that deaf students omitted more arguments and verbs compared with their hearing peers who scored at close to ceiling. Deaf students produced more omissions for direct objects and more omissions in ISL. The findings can be interpreted in two possible ways: atypical effects resulting from inconsistent language input and cross-linguistic transfer known to arise in multilingual children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)646-670
Number of pages25
JournalFirst Language
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


  • Deaf
  • argument omission
  • argument structure
  • cross-linguistic transfer
  • language deprivation
  • sign language

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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