Evaluative expression in deaf children's written narratives

Liesbeth Maria Van Beijsterveldt, Janet G. Van Hell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background Deaf children vary in the use of and proficiency in signed language. The majority of studies on writing skills of children who are deaf did not assess deaf children's proficiency in signed language andor grouped together deaf children with varying sign language skills. Aims Adopting a bimodal bilingual perspective, we examined evaluative expression, an important narrative tool in both oralwritten languages and signed languages, in narratives written in Dutch by deaf children who are proficient in Sign Language of the Netherlands SLN and deaf children who are lowproficient in SLN, and hearing monolingual and bilingual children. We hypothesized that deaf children who are proficient in signed language use their knowledge of evaluative expression in signed language to enrich their narratives in written Dutch, and more so than deaf children who are lowproficient in signed language and hearing monolingual and bilingual children. Methods & Procedures We examined the use of eight different evaluative devices in narratives written by deaf proficiently and lowproficiently signing children, and hearing monolingual and bilingual children. Narratives were also examined for morphosyntactic errors and use of complex sentences. Outcomes & Results The results show that proficiently signing deaf children's narratives contain more evaluative devices that enrich the referential structure of the narrative than narratives of lowproficiently signing deaf children, and hearing bilingual and monolingual children. Conclusions & Implications We propose that proficiently signing deaf children use their knowledge of SLN to convey evaluation in their written narratives, and thus have an advantage in enriching their narratives. This study also shows that in order to gain insight into deaf people's writing, it is important to take variations in sign language proficiency into account.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)675-692
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Language and Communication Disorders
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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