Research Article

Dissociation of functional categories in the syntax of Persian speaking deaf individuals


Background and Aim: An interesting area of research in deaf studies concerns the idea that various language components and particularly different functional categories such as tense, mood, and agreement are not impaired to the same extent. The present study aimed to explore the performance of Persian speaking deaf individuals on tests dealing with five functional categories, namely complementizer/Wh-words, tense, aspect, mood, and agreement.
Methods: This research was a cross-sectional study with two groups, first of which included 11 (4 boys and 7 girls) profoundly deaf students with hearing loss above 90 dB for both ears, aged between 14 and 22; and second group of 15 students with normal hearing with mean (SD) age of 14 (2) years. In addition to interviews, we also conducted sentence-completion and grammaticality judgment tasks to explore their performance in each category.
Results: The deaf group performed significantly worse than hearing group in all the tests. Our results also demonstrated a significant numerical gap between all five categories in the deaf group, beginning from the lowest least impaired category, which is in agreement, and ending up to the most impaired category, that is, complementizer.
Conclusion: We found a dissociation of functional categories in deaf individuals. Also, higher nodes are more vulnerable to impairments than lower nodes.

1. Chomsky N. The generative enterprise revisited. Discussions with Riny Huybregts, Henk van Riemsdijk, Naoki Fukui and Mihoko Zushi. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyeter; 2004.
2. Newmeyer FJ. Generative linguistics: an historical perspective. 1sted. London: Routledge; 1996.
3. Chomsky N. Lectures on government and binding: the Pisa lectures. 1st ed. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyeter; 1981.
4. Lightfoot D. Plato’s problem, UG, and the language organ. In: McGilvary J, editor. The Cambridge companion to Chomsky. 1st ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2005. p. 42-59.
5. Pollock JY. Verb movement, universal grammar, and the structure of IP. Linguist Inq. 1989;20(3):365-424.
6. Ingram JCL. Neurolinguistics: an introduction to spoken language processing and its disorders. 1st ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2007.
7. Friedmann N, Grodzinsky Y. Tense and agreement in agrammatic production: pruning the syntactic tree. Brain Lang. 1997;56(3):397-425. doi: 10.1006/brln.1997.1795.
8. Albertini JA, Schley S. Writing: characteristics, instruction, and assessment. In: Marschark M, Spencer PE, editors. Oxford handbook of deaf studies, language, and education. 1st ed. New York: Oxford University Press; 2003. p. 123-35.
9. de Villiers JG, de Villiers PA, Hoban E. The central problem of functional categories in the English syntax of oral deaf children. In: Hoffman JV, editor. Constraints on language acquisition: studies of atypical children.1st ed. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates; 1994. p. 9-47.
10. Radford A. Transformational grammar: a first course. 1st ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 1988.
11. Friedmann N, Novogrodsky R, Szterman R, Preminger O. Resumptive pronouns as a last resort when movement is impaired: relative clauses in hearing impairment. In: Armon-Lotem S, Danon G, Rothstein A, editors. Current issues in generative hebrew linguistics. Amsterdam: John Benjamin; 2005. p. 267-292.
12. Gheitury A, Sahraee AH, Hoseini M. Language acquisition in late critical period: a case report. Deafness Educ Int. 2012;14(3):122-35. doi: 10.1179/1557069x12y.0000000008.
13. Gheitury A, Ashraf V, Hashemi R. Investigating deaf students' knowledge of Persian syntax: further evidence for a critical period hypothesis. Neurocase. 2014;20(3):346-54. doi: 10.1080/13554794.2013.791858.
14. Mahootian S. Persian (descriptive grammars). 1st ed. London: Routledge; 1997.
15. Karimi S. A minimalist approach to scrambling: evidence from Persian.1st ed. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter; 2005.
16. Lenneberg EH. Biological foundations of language. 1st ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons; 1967.
17. Alsina A. On the nonsemantic nature of argument structure. Lang Sci. 2001;23(4-5):355-89. doi: 10.1016/s0388-0001(00)00030-9.
18. Jackendoff RS. Semantic structures. Cambridge: MIT Press; 1990.
19. Choubsaz Y, Gheitury A. Is semantics affected by missing a critical period? Evidence from the Persian deaf. J Psycholinguist Res. 2017;46(1):77-88. doi: 10.1007/s10936-016-9421-7.
20. Bybee J. Diagrammatic iconicity in stem-inflection relations. In: Haiman J, editor. Iconicity in syntax: proceedings of a symposium on iconicity in syntax, Stanford, June 24-26, 1983 (typological studies in language). Amsterdam: John Benjamins; 1985. p. 11-48.
21. Taleghani AH. Modality, aspect and negation in Persian. Amsterdam: John Benjamins; 2008.
22. Druks J. Contemporary and emergent theories of agrammatism: a neurolinguistic approach. New York: Routledge; 2017.
IssueVol 26 No 3 (2017) QRcode
SectionResearch Article(s)
Deaf functional categories dissociation Persian

Rights and permissions
Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
How to Cite
Gheitury A, Omidi A, Gholamalizadeh K. Dissociation of functional categories in the syntax of Persian speaking deaf individuals. Aud Vestib Res. 26(3):171-183.