Journal Article

Written Language Abilities in Deaf Italians

Daniela Fabbretti, Virginia Volterra and Clotilde Pontecorvo

in The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education

Volume 3, issue 3, pages 231-244
Published in print January 1998 | ISSN: 1081-4159
Published online January 1998 | e-ISSN: 1465-7325 | DOI:
Written Language Abilities in Deaf Italians

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  • Education
  • Linguistics
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Written texts produced by 10 Italian deaf native signers in four different writing tasks were analyzed. Data analysis focused on linguistic and orthographic nonstandard forms. The written production of deaf subjects with deaf parents (DD) was compared to the written production in two control groups: a group of 10 hearing subjects with deaf parents (HD) and a group of 10 subjects who have had no contact with deaf people or sign language (HH). The results duplicate findings from previous studies. Deaf subjects display a pattern of selective difficulty with Italian grammatical morphology, especially with free-standing function words. The four different writing tasks used in the present study yield results indicating that text type does influence our assessment of deaf writing abilities. A comparison of the texts written by deaf native signers with those of two hearing groups confirms the view that difficulties in the acquisition of written Italian are best explained by deafness itself, not by the influence of a previously acquired Sign Language, and that the specific difficulties with grammatical morphology displayed by our deaf subjects cannot be attributed solely to their limited experience with written Italian.

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Subjects: Education ; Linguistics ; Teaching of Specific Groups and Special Educational Needs

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