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Advances in the Sign-Language Development of Deaf Children$
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Brenda Schick, Marc Marschark, and Patricia Elizabeth Spencer

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195180947

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195180947.001.0001

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Learning to Fingerspell Twice: Young Signing Children’s Acquisition of Fingerspelling

Learning to Fingerspell Twice: Young Signing Children’s Acquisition of Fingerspelling

Chapter:
(p.189) 8 Learning to Fingerspell Twice: Young Signing Children’s Acquisition of Fingerspelling
Source:
Advances in the Sign-Language Development of Deaf Children
Author(s):

Carol A. Padden

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195180947.003.0008

This chapter reviews recent studies of fingerspelling in American Sign Language (ASL), including those that discuss how young signers begin to construct fingerspelled words. These descriptions of early fingerspelling show that acquiring fingerspelling in ASL involves two sets of skills: first, the child learns to recognize fingerspelled words as whole units, and then, when reading and writing English become more prominent in the child’s life, the child begins to understand fingerspelled words as made up of hand shapes which correspond to the letters of the alphabet. In the latter sense, the child learns fingerspelling a second time — this time in terms of its internal composition and its link to English words in their written form. The chapter concludes by addressing some implications of this pattern of acquisition of fingerspelling for the early education of young deaf children.

Keywords:   American Sign Language, fingerspelling, young signers

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