ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2017, Vol. 49 ›› Issue (11): 1383-1391.

### Deaf students’ syntactic awareness of the “shi…de” construction in sentence reading

ZHANG Fan1; LI Degao2

1.  (1 Zhejiang Vocational College of Special Education, Hangzhou 310023, China) (2 School of Translation Studies, Qufu Normal University, Rizhao 276826, China)
• Received:2016-11-20 Published:2017-11-26 Online:2017-09-25
• Contact: LI Degao, E-mail: li-degao@163.com E-mail:E-mail: li-degao@163.com
• Supported by:

Abstract:  Deaf students take sign language and written language as their first and second language, respectively. Probably because of differences between the two languages in modality, they meet serious problems with grammar in written language. However, much remains unknown behind this phenomenon. In China students with a profound level of hearing loss (SPL) attend the same activities on campus as those who have a moderate or slight level of hearing loss (SM/SL). Since most SM/SLs are able to use spoken Chinese with the help of hearing aids but SPLs are not, however, it is likely that the former develop a better awareness of grammar in written Chinese than the latter. We conducted three experiments on a cohort of 117 deaf college students (55 SPLs) from Zhejiang Vocational College of Special Education, China with sentences of the “shi…de” construction as the materials in a moving-window self-paced reading task. The structural particles “shi” and “de” in a “shi…de” sentence form a syntactic construction so that what is in between is pragmatically emphasized. The words between the two particles were an adjective, verb-object phrase, and verb phrase modified by a prepositional phrase in Experiment 1, 2, and 3, respectively. In each experiment, the key sentences were common examples of a “shi…de” construction and the corresponding grammatically incorrect sentences. A correct sentence was converted into an incorrect sentence with the first particle “shi” removed. There were 36, 34, and 36 pairs of critical sentences in Experiment 1, 2, and 3, respectively. It was hypothesized that a stronger wrap-up effect would be revealed in the participants’ reaction times to the second particle “de” in the incorrect than in the correct sentences. The wrap-up effect means that readers spend more time to the last word of a sentence because extra resources of cognition are needed for the integration of information. The SM/SLs would be more likely than the SPLs to have a wrap-up effect in the correct sentences. We obtained two main results. (1) As expected, a stronger wrap-up effect was observed in the SM/SLs’ reading time to “de” in the incorrect than in the correct sentences. However, there was no significant difference in the SPLs’ reading time to the particle between the types of sentences in Experiment 1 and 3. (2) The SPLs had significantly longer reading times to “de” in the correct than in the incorrect sentences in Experiment 2. It was concluded that the SPLs developed a significantly weaker awareness of grammar than the SM/SLs with the “shi…de” construction. More studies are needed to reveal deaf students’ syntactic awareness in written language in general.

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