[PS-1.15] Eye movements reveal influence of phonological parameters on sign processing within German Sign Language sentences

Wienholz, A. 1, 2 , Nuhbalaoglu, D. . 2 , Steinbach, M. 2 , Herrmann, A. 3 & Mani, N. 2

1 Boston University
2 University of Goettingen
3 University of Hamburg

At the phonological level, signs can be decomposed into phonological parameters. Previous studies showed a phonological priming effect in the recognition of single signs varying depending on the phonological parameters involved. This eye tracking study investigates whether a phonological priming effect can be observed for prime-target sign pairs embedded in natural sentences of German Sign Language (DGS) and how this effect is influenced by variation in the phonological relatedness of the sign pairs. Eye-movements of deaf native adult signers of DGS were recorded while they were presented with a video containing either related or unrelated prime-target sign pairs embedded in sentences simultaneously with two pictures (target, distractor). The results show supporting evidence for a phonological priming effect for sign pairs sharing handshape and movement while differing in location. Moreover, the data suggest that parameters contribute differently to sign recognition such that recognition is facilitated for signs sharing the same handshape but is inhibited when sharing the same location parameter. Hence, the study shows that sub-lexical features, e.g., point of recognition or sub-lexical frequency, influence sign language processing differently and that eye tracking can be used to investigate this effect within naturally signed sentences.