Breadmore, Helen Louise (2008)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
Severe literacy impairments are well documented in the deaf population. Morphology provides a source of text-to-meaning associations that should be available to the deaf. In this thesis, different levels of morphological awareness necessary for literacy were tested. Deaf children demonstrated that they associated morphologically related words – the first level of awareness. This was evidenced in a short-term memory task in which words sharing morphological overlap were confused more often than words sharing orthographic or semantic overlap (although these associations may have involved the combined effects of orthographic and semantic overlap). Deaf children also demonstrated knowledge of morphological generalisation (the second level of awareness) by producing predicted plural nonword spellings and over-regularisations. Finally, they demonstrated morpho-syntactic awareness – in a self-paced reading task they revealed sensitivity to subject-verb number agreement. However, deaf children demonstrated limited knowledge of irregular plural nouns and of morpho-syntax. In the self-paced reading task, they were slow to perform syntactic integration and they failed to make explicit use of agreement in a judgement task. Furthermore, even reading-age appropriate morphological awareness represents a substantial chronological delay. The findings therefore suggest that deaf children could benefit from explicit education in morphographic rules and exceptions as well as training in morpho-syntax
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