The development of american sign language–based analogical reasoning in signing deaf children

Jon Henner, Rama Novogrodsky, Catherine Caldwell-Harris, Robert Hoffmeister

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This article examines whether syntactic and vocabulary abilities in American Sign Language (ASL) facilitate 6 categories of language-based analogical reasoning. Method: Data for this study were collected from 267 deaf participants, aged 7;6 (years; months) to 18;5. The data were collected from an ongoing study initially funded by the U.S. Institute of Education Sciences in 2010. The participants were given assessments of ASL vocabulary and syntax knowledge and a task of language-based analogies presented in ASL. The data were analysed using mixed-effects linear modeling to first see how language-based analogical reasoning developed in deaf children and then to see how ASL knowledge influenced this developmental trajectory. Results: Signing deaf children were shown to demonstrate language-based reasoning abilities in ASL consistent with both chronological age and home language environment. Notably, when ASL vocabulary and syntax abilities were statistically taken into account, these were more important in fostering the development of language-based analogical reasoning abilities than were chronological age and home language. We further showed that ASL vocabulary ability and ASL syntactic knowledge made different contributions to different analogical reasoning sub constructs. Conclusions: ASL is a viable language that supports the development of language-based analogical reasoning abilities in deaf children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-105
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
R324A100176 (2010–2015; PI: Robert Hoffmeister). During the writing of this manuscript, RN was funded by Israel Science Foundation Grant 1068/16 (PI: Rama Novogrodsky). The authors would like to acknowledge Rachel Benedict, Patrick Rosenburg, Jeanne Reis, and Sarah Fish for their many years of work on the ASLAI and The Learning Center for the Deaf for both their involvement in the research and their commitment to a bilingual education for deaf students. The authors also declare an equal contribution from the first and second authors.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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