Turn taking prediction with and without access to linguistic structure in sign language: Evidence from signers and non-signers of Nederlandse Gebarentaal

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This thesis aims to investigate the cues used for turn-taking by asking whether access to linguistic structure plays a role when predicting turn-ends in sign language. I will also investigate the hypothesis posited by De Vos and colleagues (2015): that turn boundaries in signed conversation are determined by stroke-to-stroke boundaries, and are not, instead, at the end of the final sign’s retraction phase. This will be examined by means of a button-press experiment in which signers and non-signers predicted turn-ends in Nederlandse Gebarentaal. Results indicate that non-signers had a disadvantage over the signers, because they lacked access to lexical information, but were still able to use some of their knowledge of co-speech gestures and the recognizability of iconic signs to predict turn ends to some extent. There might be a possibility that non-verbal elements therefore also play a role in turn taking in spoken languages. The signers did adhere to the stroke-to-stroke boundaries, and were able to predict turn ends in the great majority of cases, supporting the hypothesis posited by De Vos and colleagues (2015).
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