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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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Deaf Children’s Acquisition of Modal Terms

Deaf Children’s Acquisition of Modal Terms

Chapter:
(p.291) 12 Deaf Children’s Acquisition of Modal Terms
Source:
Advances in the Sign-Language Development of Deaf Children
Author(s):

Barbara Shaffer

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195180947.003.0012

While it is important to continue to study cognitive development in children, we can never fully understand how children construe their worlds. Certain linguistic competencies, however, do provide a window into the child’s developing mind and therefore contribute to the overall understanding of child development. Mastery in the use of modal terms (e.g. “have to,” “should,” “can”) is a major linguistic feat, one that suggests much about a child’s cognitive development and social awareness. This chapter explores the emergence of modal terms in deaf children. It focuses primarily on two types of modality: agent-oriented and epistemic. Agent-oriented modals describe conditions placed on main clause agents (e.g. “John must go to the doctor”), while epistemic modals convey the speaker’s beliefs regarding the truth of a proposition (“John could be at the doctor”).

Keywords:   cognitive development, deaf children, modal terms, linguistic competencies

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