Expression of temporality in Hebrew narratives written by deaf adolescents
The chapter examines how temporal relations are expressed in narratives written by deaf compared with hearing Hebrew-speaking adolescents. Written texts of deaf students manifest distinct characteristics, attributable to the different circumstances of acquisition of spoken language in the two populations. The study focuses on two facets of narrative temporality – use of an anchor tense and tense shifting – in order to shed light on linguistic features of cartoon-based texts written by deaf students in Hebrew. Findings show that deaf students have good mastery of Hebrew tense forms and some sensitivity to how these are used to express different discourse functions. However, narrative tense anchoring is less established among deaf than hearing participants, and only the deaf students employ tense shifting for unconventional, not strictly temporal purposes. These results are explained in terms of language-internal features of the Hebrew system of marking tense that present deaf children with particular difficulties together with the external circumstances in which deaf children growing up in Israel acquire and use spoken language.