The acquisition of strategies to express plurality in hearing second language learners of sign language of the Netherlands

Authors Eveline Boers-Visker
Published in Language Learning
Publication date 2023
Research groups Multilingualism and Education
Type Article


This study reports on strategies to indicate plural referents in hearing learners of Sign Language of the Netherlands. This is the first explorative study that focuses on L2 expressions of plurality in a sign language. Using data from two datasets, I examined when learners start to express plural and which strategies they apply, and I noted typical learner characteristics. The first study examined spontaneous conversations of three learners, during the first 18 months of their learning. The second study analyzed elicited data from 11 learners during their first year of learning. The data reveal that learners are able to express plural referents in early stages, using strategies that are familiar to them (quantifiers) as well as strategies that do not occur in their mother tongue (reduplication of the noun, use of spatial devices). The early emergence might be explained by the salient nature of the devices and the resemblance with gestural portrayals.

On this publication contributed

Language English
Published in Language Learning
Key words sign language, second language learners, expression of plurality
Digital Object Identifier 10.1111/lang.12610

Eveline Boers-Visker