Visual and "Phonetic" Coding of Movement: Evidence from American Sign Language

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Science  08 May 1981:
Vol. 212, Issue 4495, pp. 691-693
DOI: 10.1126/science.212.4495.691


Hearing subjects unfamiliar with American Sign Language and deaf native signers made triadic comparisons of movements of the hands and arms isolated from American Sign Language. Clustering and scaling of subjects' judgments revealed different psychological representations of movement form for deaf and hearing observerd. Linguistically relevant dimensions acquired modified salience for users ofa visual-gestural language. The data indicate that the modification of natural perceptual categories after language acquisition is not bound to a particular transmission modality, but rather can be a more general consequence of acquiring a formal linguistic system.