Two studies investigated the ramifications of encoding spatial locations via signing space for perspective choice in American Sign Language. Deaf signers (speakers) described the location of one of two identical objects either to a present addressee or to a remote addressee via a video monitor. Unlike what has been found for English speakers, ASL signers did not adopt their addressees spatial perspective when describing locations in a jointly viewed present environment; rather, they produced spatial descriptions utilizing shared space in which classifier and deictic signs were articulated at locations in signing space that schematically mapped to both the speakers and addressees view of object locations within the (imagined) environment. When the speaker and addressee were not jointly viewing the environment, speakers either adopted their addressees perspective via referential shift (i.e. locations in signing space were described as if the speaker were the addressee) or speakers expressed locations from their own perspective by describing locations from their view of a map of the environment and the addressees position within that environment. The results highlight crucial distinctions between the nature of perspective choice in signed languages in which signing space is used to convey spatial information and spoken languages in which spatial information is conveyed by lexical spatial terms. English speakers predominantly reduce their addressees cognitive load by adopting their addressees perspective, whereas in ASL shared space can be used (there is no true addressee or speaker perspective) and in other contexts, reversing speaker perspective is common in ASL and does not increase the addressees cognitive load.
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Perez, Eliany & Steven M. Weisberg
2023. Individual differences in spatial navigation. In Reference Module in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Psychology,
Pyers, Jennie E., Pamela Perniss & Karen Emmorey
2015. Viewpoint in the Visual-Spatial Modality: The Coordination of Spatial Perspective. Spatial Cognition & Computation 15:3 ► pp. 143 ff.
Quinto‐Pozos, David, Taylor Renee Joyce, Abhra Sarkar, Michael DiLeo & Lynn Hou
2023. L2 Learners’ Signed Language Processing Relates, in Part, to Perspective‐Taking Skills. Language Learning 73:S1 ► pp. 64 ff.
Secora, Kristen & Karen Emmorey
2019. Social Abilities and Visual-Spatial Perspective-Taking Skill: Deaf Signers and Hearing Nonsigners. The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education 24:3 ► pp. 201 ff.
Secora, Kristen & Karen Emmorey
2020. Visual-Spatial Perspective-Taking in Spatial Scenes and in American Sign Language. The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education 25:4 ► pp. 447 ff.
Slonimska, Anita, Asli Özyürek & Olga Capirci
2020. The role of iconicity and simultaneity for efficient communication: The case of Italian Sign Language (LIS). Cognition 200 ► pp. 104246 ff.
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