Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 48, Issue 6, pp 1319–1338 | Cite as

Are French Fries a Vegetable? Lexical Typicality Judgement Differences in Deaf and Hearing Learners

  • Kathryn CroweEmail author
  • Marc Marschark


Deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) learners are known to have vocabulary knowledge and language outcomes more heterogeneous than their hearing peers, with a greater incidence of difficulties presumably related (both as cause and effect) to documented challenges in academic domains. In particular, there is increasing evidence that differences may exist in the ways that semantic networks are structured and accessed in DHH and hearing learners. Individuals’ judgments of word typicality offers a window into their semantic networks, revealing internal relationships in the mental lexicon. In the present study, 90 DHH and hearing college-aged learners provided typicality ratings at two points in time for 120 words common words considered to be central, borderline, or non-members of six categories. DHH and hearing participants differed in terms of their word knowledge, rating consistency, and rating magnitudes. Relative to hearing peers, DHH participants reported not knowing more of the words, but rated all words as being more typical than did hearing participants and rated the typicality of items more consistently over time. Implications of these findings for understanding mental lexicon structure for DHH and hearing learners, interpreting previous research, and constructing stimuli for future research are discussed.


Deaf Hearing loss Typicality Semantic structure Lexicon Conceptual categories 



This research was supported by the Grant Development Funding Scheme from the Faculty of Arts and Education, Charles Sturt University. The first author was supported by an Australian-American Postdoctoral Fulbright Scholarship.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 75 kb)


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of IcelandReykjavíkIceland
  2. 2.Charles Sturt UniversityBathurstAustralia
  3. 3.National Technical Institute for the DeafRochester Institute of TechnologyRochesterUSA
  4. 4.University of AberdeenAberdeenUK

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