Signed language working memory capacity of signed language interpreters and deaf signers

Jihong Wang*, Jemina Napier

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    This study investigated the effects of hearing status and age of signed language acquisition on signed language working memory capacity. Professional Auslan (Australian sign language)/English interpreters (hearing native signers and hearing nonnative signers) and deaf Auslan signers (deaf native signers and deaf nonnative signers) completed an Auslan working memory (WM) span task. The results revealed that the hearing signers (i.e., the professional interpreters) significantly outperformed the deaf signers on the Auslan WM span task. However, the results showed no significant differences between the native signers and the nonnative signers in their Auslan working memory capacity. Furthermore, there was no significant interaction between hearing status and age of signed language acquisition. Additionally, the study found no significant differences between the deaf native signers (adults) and the deaf nonnative signers (adults) in their Auslan working memory capacity. The findings are discussed in relation to the participants' memory strategies and their early language experience. The findings present challenges for WM theories.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)271-286
    Number of pages16
    JournalJournal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education
    Volume18
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013

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