Verbal Construction in Narratives Produced by Deaf Students Who use Chilean Sign Language

  • Fabiola Andrea Otárola-Cornejo Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso
  • Andrea Pérez-Cuello Unidad de Educación Especial - Ministerio de Educación
  • Natalia Ortiz-Navarrete Colegio Santiago Apóstol
  • Martin Álvarez-Cruz
Keywords: verbs, Chilean Sign Language, language immersion, deaf, lexical verb forms


Chilean Sign Language, like other visual and spatial languages, is a natural language which develops within Deaf communities, which is an aspect recognized but not always included in linguistic descriptive studies. Including signing participants of the same age but different linguistic development and language system description in isolated tasks of natural language use might lead to misinterpretations when describing sign languages. Consequently, this research had the objective of describing the lexical verb forms discourse and grammatical resources in personal experience narratives signed by users of Chilean Sign Language. In order to achieve that, the research used a predominantly qualitative method, opting for data collection in ecologically valid settings and a cross-sectional, descriptive design. The linguistic corpus was comprised of 42 narrative texts produced by 14 Deaf students with different years of language immersion. 1052 lexical verb forms were identified, with Plain verbs as the most frequent verb type and Spatial verbs as the least frequent ones. It was observed that students with more years of linguistic experience use more verb forms and even more if they are also students of more advanced school years. These results suggest that longer language immersion in sign languages might mean a better psycho-linguistic performance of Deaf students, with the consequent social and educational implications for their development. Additionally, this study contributes to the description of Chilean Sign Language and to proposing the first guidelines for researching its acquisition and development. Moreover, we believe our findings can enrich the educational processes of Deaf people, their teachers and other professionals working in educational settings.

= 46 veces | PDF (ESPAÑOL (ESPAÑA))
= 40 veces|


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Fabiola Andrea Otárola-Cornejo, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso

Doctora en Lingüística y Licenciada en Educación, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso. Investigadora posdoctoral del Centro de Investigación para la Educación Inclusiva, Campus Sausalito, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, Viña del Mar, Chile.

Andrea Pérez-Cuello, Unidad de Educación Especial - Ministerio de Educación

Máster en Integración de Personas con Discapacidad, Universidad de Salamanca, España, y profesora de sordos, Universidad Metropolitana de Ciencias de la Educación, Región Metropolitana, Chile. Estudiante de Magíster en Lingüística, Universidad de Santiago de Chile.

Natalia Ortiz-Navarrete, Colegio Santiago Apóstol

Profesora de sordos e intérprete de lengua de señas chilena, Universidad Metropolitana de Ciencias de la Educación, Chile. Estudiante de Magíster en Lingüística Aplicada, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso.

Martin Álvarez-Cruz

Estudiante de Magíster en Letras, mención Lingüística, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Chile. Traductor inglés-español


Acuña, X., Adamo, D., Cabrera I., y Lissi, M. (2012). Estudio descriptivo del desarrollo de la competencia narrativa en lengua de señas chilena. Revista Onomazein, 26(2), 193-219.

Acuña, X., Adamo, D., y Cabrera, I. (2009). Diccionario bilingüe lengua de señas chilena-español. Gobierno de Chile - MINEDUC.

Adam, J. M. (1997). Les textes: Types et prototypes. Récit, description, argumentation, explication et dialogue. Nathan.

Adamo, D., Cabrera, I., Lattapiat, P., y Acuña, X. (1999). Verbo de concordancia en la lengua de señas chilena. Revista Onomazein, 4, 335-344.

Baker-Shenk, Ch., y Cokely, D. (1980). American Sign Language. A teacher’s resource text on grammar and culture. Gallaudet University Press.

Barberà, G. (2012). The meaning of space in Catalan Sign Language (LSC) (Tesis de doctorado). Universidad Pompeu Fabra.

Becker, C. (2009). Narrative competences of deaf children in German Sign Language. Sign Language & Linguistics, 2(12), 113-160.

Benedicto, E., Cvejanov, S., y Quer, J. (2007). Valency in classifier predicates: A syntactic analysis. Lingua, 117(7), 1202-1215.

Berman, R., y Slobin, D. (1994). Narrative structure. En R. Berman y D. Slobin (Eds.), Relating events in narrative: A crosslinguistic developmental study (pp. 39-84). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Brentari, D. (2010). Introduction. En D. Brentari (Ed.), Sign Languages. (pp. 1-16). Cambridge University Press.

Bruner, J. (2012). Realidad mental y mundos posibles. Los actos de la imaginación que dan sentido a la experiencia. Gedisa.

Casey, S. K. (2003). “Agreement” in gestures and signed languages: The use of directionality to indicate referents involved in actions (Tesis de doctorado). University of California.

Clark, J. G. (1981). Uses and abuses of hearing loss classification. Asha, 23(7), 493-500.

Cokart, R. (2013). The auxiliary verb AUX-OP in Sign Language of the Netherlands (NGT). Patterns of the use in Deaf NGT signers and NGT-Dutch interpreters (Tesis de maestría). Facultad de Humanidades, Universidad de Ámsterdam.

Cormier, K., Fenlon, J., y Schembri, A. (2015). Indicating verbs in British Sign Language favour motivated use of space. Open Linguistics, 1(1), 684-707.

Cormier, K., Smith, S., y Zwets, M. (2013). Framing constructed action in British Sign Language narratives. Journal of Pragmatics, 55, 119-139.

Crespo, N. (1993). Diccionario de lengua de señas, Córdoba. Grupo de investigación de lenguaje de señas.

De Beuzeville, L., Johnston, T., y Schembri, A. C. (2009). The use of space with indicating verbs in Auslan: A corpus-based investigation. Sign Language & Linguistics, 12(1), 53-82.

Earis, H., y Cormier, K. (2013). Point of view in British Sign Language and spoken English narrative discourse: The example of “The Tortoise and the Hare”. Language and Cognition, 4(5), 313-343.

Eggins, S., y Slade, D. (2005). Analysing casual conversation. Equinox Publishing Ltd.

Engberg-Pedersen, E. (2003). From pointing to reference and predication: Pointing signs, eyegaze, and head and body orientation in Danish Sign Language. En S. Kita (Ed.), Pointing: Where language, culture, and cognition meet (pp. 269-292). Psychology Press.

Fenlon, J., Schembri, A., Johnston, T., y Cormier. K. (2015a). Documentary and corpus approaches to sign language research. En E. Orfanidou, B. Woll, y G. Morgan (Eds.), Research methods in sign language studies: A practical guide (pp. 156-172). Blackwell.

Fenlon, J., Schembri, A., y Cormier, K. (2015b). Modification of indicating verbs in British Sign Language: A corpus-based study. Language, 94(1), 84-118.

Fridman-Mintz, B. (2005). Tense and aspect inflections in Mexican Sign Language verbs (Tesis de doctorado). Georgetown University.

Gimenez, J. (2010). Narrative analysis in linguistic research. En L. Litosseliti (Ed.), Research methods in linguistics (pp. 198-215). Bloomsbury Publishing.

Heine, B., y Kuteva, T. (2007). The genesis of grammar: A reconstruction. Oxford University Press.

Hernández, R., Fernández, C., y Baptista, P. (2006). Metodología de la investigación. Mc Graw Hill.

Hoiting, N. (2006). Deaf children are verb attenders: Early sign vocabulary development in Dutch toddlers. En B. Schick, M. Marschark y P. Spencer (Eds.), Advances in the sign language development of deaf children (pp. 161-188). Oxford University Press.

Humphries, T., Kushalnagar, P., Mathur, G., Napoli, D. J., Padden, C., y Rathmann, C. (2014). Ensuring language acquisition for deaf children: What linguists can do. Language, 90(2), e31-e52.

Johnston, T. (1992). The realization of the linguistic metafunctions in a sign language. Social Semiotics, 2(1), 1-43.

Johnston, T., y De Beuzeville. L. (2014). Auslan Corpus Annotation guidelines. Centre for Language Sciences, Department of Linguistics. Macquarie University.

Johnston, T., y Schembri, A. (2007). Australian sign language: An introduction to sign language linguistics. Cambridge University Press.

Labov, W. (1972). Sociolinguistic patterns. University of Pennsylvania Press.

Labov, W., y Waletzky, J. (1967). Narrative analysis oral versions of personal experience. En J. Helm (Ed.), Essays in the verbal and visual arts (pp. 12-44). University of Washington Press.

Liddell, S. (2003). Grammar, gesture, and meaning in American Sign Language. Cambridge University Press.

Liddell, S., y Johnson, R. (2000). American Sign Language: The phonological base. En C. Valli y C. Lucas. Linguistics of American Sign Language. An introduction (pp. 267-306). Academic Press.

Marshall, C., y Morgan, G. (2015). From gesture to sign language: Conventionalization of classifier constructions by adult hearing learners of British Sign Language. Topics in Cognitive Science, 7, 61-80.

Mathur, G., y Rathmann, C. (2010). Two types of nonconcatenative morphology in signed languages. En G. Mathur, G. y D. Napoli (Eds.), Deaf around the world: The impact of language (pp. 54-82). Oxford University Press.

Matthiessen, C., y Halliday, M. (2009). Systemic functional grammar: A first step into the theory. Beijing: Higher Education Press. (Trabajo original de 1997).

Meier, R. (2012). Language and modality. En R. Pfau, M. Steinbach y B. Woll (Eds.), Sign language: An international handbook (pp. 574-601). De Gruyter Mounton.

Meir, I. (2002). A cross-modality perspective on verb agreement. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, 20(2), 413-450.

Meir, I., Padden, C., Aronoff, M., y Sandler, W. (2008). Re-thinking sign language verb classes: The body as subject. En R. de Quadros (Ed.), Sign languages: Spinning and unraveling the past, present and future. TISLR9, forty five papers and three posters from the 9th. Theoretical Issues in Sign Language Research Conference, Florianopolis, Brazil, December 2006 (pp. 365-387). Arara Azul.

Minami, M. (2002). Culture-specific language styles. Multilingual Matters.

Moores, D. (2001). Educating the deaf: Psychology, principles, and practices. Houghton Mifflin.

Morgan, G. (2005). Transcription of child sign language: A focus on narrative. Sign Language and Linguistics, 8(1-2), 119-130.

Morgan, G. (2006). The development of narrative skil lengua de señas in British Sign Language. En B. Schick, M., Marschark, y P. Spencer (Eds.), Advances in the sign language development of deaf children (pp. 314-343). Oxford University Press.

Mulrooney, K. J. (2009). Extraordinary from the ordinary: Personal experience narratives in American Sign Language. Gallaudet University Press.

Murmann, C. (2012). The agreement auxiliary PAM in German Sign Language - An empirical investigation (Tesis de maestría). Facultad de Artes y Humanidades, Universidad de Düseldorff.

Neidle, C., y Vogler, C. (2012). A new web interface to facilitate access to corpora: Development of the ASLLRP Data Access Interface (DAI). En O. Crasborn, E. Efthimiou, E. Fotinea, T. Hanke, J. Kristoffersen y J. Mesch (Eds.), Proceedings of the 5th Workshop on the representation and processing of sign languages: Interactions between corpus and lexicon [Workshop as part of 8th International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation, Istanbul, Turkey] (pp. 137-142). European Language Resources Association.

Otárola, F. (2016). Elementos discursivos que configuran la narración en lengua de señas chilena (Tesis de doctorado). Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso.

Owens, R. (2003). Desarrollo del lenguaje. Pearson Prentice Hall.

Padden, C. (1988). Interaction of morphology and syntax in American Sign Language. Garland Publishing.

Pfau, R., y Steinbach, M. (2006). Modality-independent and modality-specific aspects of grammaticalization in sign languages. Linguistics in Potsdam, 24, 5-98.

Rathmann, Ch., y Mathur, G. (2004). Is verb agreement the same crossmodally? En R. Meier, K. Cormier y D. Quinto-Pozos (Eds.), Modality and structure in signed and spoken languages (2.a ed., pp. 370-404). Cambridge University Press.

Saldías, P. (2015). Análisis descriptivo de la categoría gramatical de aspecto en la lengua de señas chilena (Memoria de grado). Universidad de Chile.

Sánchez, J. (2015). El discurssignat i escrit de l’alumnatsordsignant: implicacions en la modalitat educativa bilingüe (Tesis de doctorado). Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona.

Sandler, W., y Lillo-Martin, D. (2006). Sign Language and Linguistic Universals. Cambridge University Press.

Schank, R., y Abelson, R. (1987). Guiones, planes, metas y entendimiento: un estudio de las estructuras del conocimiento humano. Paidós.

Schembri, A. (2002). Issues in the analysis of polycomponential verbs in Australian Sign Language (Auslan) (Tesis de doctorado, Universidad de Sydney). Sydney Digital Theses (Open Access),

Schembri, A. (2010). Documenting sign languages. En P. Austin (Ed.), Language documentation and description (pp. 105-143). School of African and Oriental Studies.

Schembri, A., Cormier, K., y Fenlon, J. (2018). Indicating verbs as typologically unique constructions: Reconsidering verb ‘agreement’ in sign languages. Glossa: a journal of general linguistics, 3(1), 1-40.

Smith, S., y Cormier, K. (2014). In or Out? Spatial scale and enactment in narratives of native and nonnative signing deaf children acquiring British Sign Language. Sign Language Studies, 14(3), 275-301.

Steinbach, M. (2011). What do agreement auxiliaries reveal about the grammar of sign language agreement? Theoretical Linguistics, 37(3-4), 209-221.

Steinbach, M., y Pfau, R. (2007). Grammaticalization of auxiliaries in sign languages. En P. Perniss, R. Pfau y M. Steinbach (Eds.), Visible variation: Comparative studies on sign language structure. Mouton de Gruyter.

Stokoe, W. (1993). Sign language structure. An outline of the visual communication systems of the American deaf. Linstok Press. (Trabajo original publicado en 1960).

Supalla, J., y McKee, C. (2004). The role of Manually Coded English in language development of deaf children. En R. Meier, K., Cormier y D. Quinto-Pozos (Eds.), Modality and structure in signed and spoken languages (pp. 143-165). Cambridge University Press.

Sutton-Spence, R. (2010). The role of sign language narratives in developing identity for deaf children. Journal of Folklore Research, 47(3), 265-305.

Talmy, L. (2000). Toward a cognitive semantics. A Bradford Book.

Woodward, J. (1978). Historical Bases of American Sign Language. En S. Patricia (Ed.), Understanding language through sign language research (pp. 333-348). Academic Press.

Zwaan, R. A., Magliano, J. P., y Graesser, A. C. (1995). Dimensions of situation model construction in narrative comprehension. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, And Cognition, 21(2), 386-397.

Empirical Studies