The Effects of Multiple Linguistic Variables on Picture Naming in American Sign Language
Picture-naming tasks provide critical data for theories of lexical representation and retrieval and have been performed successfully in sign languages. However, the specific influences of lexical or phonological factors and stimulus properties on sign retrieval are poorly understood. To examine lexical retrieval in American Sign Language (ASL), we conducted a timed picture-naming study using 524 pictures (272 objects and 251 actions). We also compared ASL naming with previous data for spoken English for a subset of 425 pictures. Deaf ASL signers named object pictures faster and more consistently than action pictures, as previously reported for English speakers. Lexical frequency, iconicity, better name agreement, and lower phonological complexity each facilitated naming reaction times (RT)s. RTs were also faster for pictures named with shorter signs (measured by average response duration). Target name agreement was higher for pictures with more iconic and shorter ASL names. The visual complexity of pictures slowed RTs and decreased target name agreement. RTs and target name agreement were correlated for ASL and English, but agreement was lower for ASL, possibly due to the English bias of the pictures. RTs were faster for ASL, which we attributed to a smaller lexicon. Overall, the results suggest that models of lexical retrieval developed for spoken languages can be adopted for signed languages, with the exception that iconicity should be included as a factor. The open-source picture-naming data set for ASL serves as an important, first-of-its-kind resource for researchers, educators, or clinicians for a variety of research, instructional, or assessment purposes.
Sehyr, Sevcikova, Z., & Emmorey, K. (2021). The effects of multiple linguistic variables on picture naming in American Sign Language. Behavior Research Methods, 54, 2502-2521. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13428-021-01751-x