When deaf bilinguals are asked to make semantic similarity judgments of two written words, their responses are influenced by the sublexical relationship of the signed language translations of the target words. This study investigated whether the observed effects of ASL activation on English print depend on (a) an overlap in syllabic structure of the signed translations or (b) on initialization, an effect of contact between ASL and English that has resulted in a direct representation of English orthographic features in ASL sublexical form. Results demonstrate that neither of these conditions is required or enhances effects of cross-language activation. The experimental outcomes indicate that deaf bilinguals discover the optimal mapping between their two languages in a manner that is not constrained by privileged sublexical associations.

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This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education following peer review. The version of record, Jill P Morford, Corrine Occhino, Megan Zirnstein, Judith F Kroll, Erin Wilkinson, Pilar Piñar, What is the Source of Bilingual Cross-Language Activation in Deaf Bilinguals?, The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, Volume 24, Issue 4, October 2019, Pages 356–365, is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1093/deafed/enz024

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Department, Program, or Center

Office of the President (NTID)


RIT – Main Campus