Volume 14, Issue 4 (2023)                   LRR 2023, 14(4): 447-478 | Back to browse issues page

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Hasani Jalilian F, Haghbin F. Cognitive Analysis of Verbs “To be” and “To Have” in Deaf Writings. LRR 2023; 14 (4) :447-478
URL: http://lrr.modares.ac.ir/article-14-51705-en.html
1- Ph.D in Linguistics Alzahra University
2- faculty of Literatureو Linguistics group, Alzahra University , fhaghbin@alzahra.ac.ir
Abstract:   (2350 Views)
In comparison to other grammatical categories, the verb is considered as an abstract category. Due to hearing limitations, deaf people make mistakes in using words that have abstract meanings; therefore, to examine the verb category, the authors collected about 4500 sentences in the writings of 10 deaf female students in the second and third grades of middle school during an academic year in Kermanshah province. The purpose of this study is to investigate the usage of the two most frequent verbs "be" and "have" in the participants' writings. Following this goal, two questions arose: a) relating these verbs, what kinds of semantic errors are found in the writings of the deaf? b) What are the effects of the semantic and cognitive natures of these two verbs on the extent to which they are used and on their associated errors? The results of this study showed that the selectional errors (using the verbs "be" and " have" instead of each other or instead of other verbs), Argument structure errors, and adding an extra “be” verb error are the high-frequency errors, respectively. This shows that despite the overuse of these verbs, participants are not aware of their semantic distinctions of them. Furthermore, Along with the Cognitive Grammar doctrine, the authors believe that since imperfective verbs’ component states do not change and are constant over time are used more than other verbs. In addition, little content and highly schematic characterization of the verb “be” are the main reasons for the overuse of this verb.
  1. Introduction
People with mild to profound hearing loss encounter challenges in acquiring language categories due to lack of language exposure. Verbs, which are crucial components of propositions, are particularly difficult to learn because of their abstract nature. The difficulties in verb retrieval observed in individuals with various language disorders suggest that producing and comprehending verbs require greater cognitive efforts compared to other categories.
The current study aims to examine how verbs are utilized in the written language of the deaf. In other words, the authors aim to determine whether this category is correctly used by deaf participants or not. It is important to mention that conducting detailed examinations of verbs in the writings of deaf people necessitates a broad scope of studies. Therefore, this research is being undertaken to meticulously examine the semantic and cognitive characteristics of two particular verbs in Persian through a cognitive linguistics approach offered by Langacker (1987).
Based on the authors' initial observations, "to be" and "to have," which are classified as "imperfective" verbs, exhibited a higher frequency than other verbs. However, simultaneously, they were linked to a greater number of errors. This research is necessary because there has been no study from a cognitive and semantic perspective examining verbs in the deaf language production.
 Research Question:
  1. What types of semantic errors are evident in association with the verbs "to be" and "to have" in the written language of deaf individuals?
  2.  what influences do the semantic and cognitive characteristics of these two verbs have on the frequency of their usage and any related errors?
  1. Literature Review
Hassani Jalilian (2020) demonstrated that the deaf students utilized less- prototype verbs to a large extent. The abstract nature of the verb category, the semantic characteristics of less prototype verbs, the limited language exposure, and the different social experiences of the individuals were cited as possible explanations for this phenomenon.
Gheitury and Choubsaz (2017) examined the semantic and linguistic knowledge of 12 deaf students through pictorial and written tasks. The study aimed to assess their knowledge of argument structure, which involved determining the number of arguments each verb required. The result revealed that the deaf participants had a satisfactory comprehension of the semantic properties of verbs as well as the number of arguments each verb took.
In their research, Ormel et al. (2020) explored the difference in semantic knowledge between bilingual deaf children and their hearing peers at different ages. They used images, writing, and sign language to evaluate semantic categorization at the exemplar and subcategory level.  The result of their research indicated that, on average, the semantic knowledge of the deaf children was not well-developed compared to their hearing peers.
  1. Methodology
3.1 Participants
To conduct the present study, interviews were carried out with 23 deaf and hard of hearing students as well as their parents and their teachers. Then, 10 deaf individuals who were similar in terms of hearing, physical, cultural, and economic factors were chosen. The average age of the selected participants was 17.2 years (SD = 1.13). A control group of hearing peers matched for age and education was also selected. The deaf group were in the second and third grades of middle school. All deaf participants grew up in monolingual (Persian) families and had not used any specific sign language during their childhood. Instead, they used home signs before starting school.

3.2 Data Collection
The data collection process lasted approximately 7 months during an academic year. The data were collected through weekly meetings (each lasting approximately 20-30 minutes). The participants were asked to write compositions about abstract, less abstract, and concrete subjects. The students were given pictures for less abstract and concrete subjects. In addition, when they needed assistance, their teacher would provide explanations and ensure they clearly understood the concept. Overall, 4504 sentences were collected from the deaf group for further analysis.
  1. Results
The findings showed that deaf people faced challenges in using the verb category. In the deaf writings verb diversity was significantly low compared to their hearing group. Selectional errors (using the verbs "be" and " have" instead of each other or instead of other verbs), Argument structure errors and adding an extra “be” verb errors were the high frequency errors, respectively. The errors demonstrated that due to the verbs’ abstract nature and requiring more cognitive load, they cannot be acquired naturally by the deaf individuals. 
Another argument that can be put forward for relying heavily on these two verbs is related to the semantic distinctions between the perfective and the imperfective verbs as proposed in Cognitive Grammar. Imperfective verbs, which have a lower semantic content compared to other types of verbs, are easier for the deaf to learn and use.
Based on the entrenchment phenomenon proposed by Langacker (2008), the frequent use of "be" and "have" led to their status as active linguistic units. This means that when deaf individuals do not have the appropriate verbs in mind, they might substitute these verbs instead. It should be acknowledged that the different ways of using verbs by deaf individuals do not imply that they do not comprehend them, since as stated in the Cognitive Grammar, comprehending verbs requires understanding relationships and tracking time, which is a natural cognitive ability among human beings. That is, a deaf person knows the concept of verbs such as "to break" or "to clean," but due to the lack of linguistic experience, s/he cannot learn the corresponding linguistic labels to use them in necessary situations.
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Article Type: مقالات علمی پژوهشی | Subject: Linguistics
Published: 2023/10/2

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