[PS-1.16] Sign Perception in Catalan Sign Language

Gimeno, M. 1 , Costa, A. 1, 2 & Baus, C. 1

1 Center for Brain and Cognition. Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
2 Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats (ICREA)

Language experience tune how people perceive language. This assertion, quite common in the domain of spoken languages is not so clear in the field of sign languages. Whether linguistic experience or more general visual experience is at the core of sign perception remains an open issue. To investigate the presence of categorical perception (CP) in sign language, we designed two experiments and tested groups of signers with different knowledge of sign language. In Experiment 1 we tested three groups of children -deaf signers, hearing signers and hearing non-signers-. Similar results were obtained for all groups in both identification and discrimination tasks regardless of sign language experience. In Experiment 2 two groups of adults -Catalan sign language learners and non-signers- perceived handshapes that could be permissible (either as a sign or as a gesture) or not. Both groups obtained similar results in both tasks and performed significantly different perceiving handshapes depending on their permissibility. Our results suggest that sign language experience is not a unique factor in handshape perception and we consider other hypothesis regarding visual experience. That is, handshape perception might be similarly influenced by the experience of seeing handshapes either as signs or as gestures.