Talking While Signing: The Influence of Simultaneous Communication on the Spoken Language of Bimodal Bilinguals

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PURPOSE: This study aimed to examine how speech while sign (simultaneous communication [SimCom]) affects the spoken language of bimodal bilingual teachers and how individual differences in sign-language vocabulary knowledge, SimCom teaching experience, and the ability to perform speech under dual-task conditions explain the variability in SimCom performance. METHOD: Forty experienced teachers of deaf and hard of hearing students participated in a story narration task under different conditions. Speech rate, lexical richness, and syntactic complexity were measured and compared across speech-only versus SimCom conditions. Furthermore, participants' score on a sign-language vocabulary test, their self-reported SimCom teaching experience, and their performance in a dual-task condition were taken as predictors of SimCom narration performance. RESULTS: The findings revealed slower speech rate, lower lexical richness, and lower syntactic complexity in the SimCom condition compared with the speech-only condition. Sign-language vocabulary score and SimCom teaching experience explained speech rate and lexical richness. Participant's ability to speak under a dual-task condition did not modulate performance. CONCLUSIONS: The findings may suggest that the production of the less dominant (sign) language during SimCom entails inhibition of the dominant (spoken) language relative to the speech-only condition. At the same time, the findings are also compatible with the suggestion that SimCom serves as a unique complex communication unit that cannot be reduced to the combination of two languages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)785-796
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 9 Feb 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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