Space Oddities: The Acquisition of Agreement Verbs by L2 Learners of Sign Language of the Netherlands

Authors Eveline Boers-Visker, Roland Pfau
Published in The Modern Language Journal
Publication date 1 December 2020
Type Article


ion of verb agreement by hearing learners of a sign language. During a 2-year period, 14 novel learners of Sign Language of the Netherlands (NGT) with a spoken language background performed an elicitation task 15 times. Seven deaf native signers and NGT teachers performed the same task to serve as a benchmark group. The results obtained show that for some learners, the verb agreement system of NGT was difficult to master, despite numerous examples in the input. As compared to the benchmark group, learners tended to omit agreement markers on verbs that could be modified, did not always correctly use established locations associated with discourse referents, and made characteristic errors with respect to properties that are important in the expression of agreement (movement and orientation). The outcomes of the study are of value to practitioners in the field, as they are informative with regard to the nature of the learning process during the first stages of learning a sign language.

On this publication contributed

Language English
Published in The Modern Language Journal
Year and volume 2020 104
Key words sign language, second language acquisition, agreement verbs, use of space, overgeneralization
Page range 757-780

Eveline Boers-Visker