Language development + acquisition + literacy
These documentaries online "Baby Talk in ASL", "Toddler Talk in ASL", and the next subsequent years are a journey that gives you an partial real-life immersion in a native ASL environment from birth onwards.
This project "Baby Talk in ASL" (and the subsequent years) follows an adorable baby's language development and acquisition as well as literacy development in sign language, specifically ASL, from her birth to the present time (whenever it will be) in a natural native-ASL environment and visual culture.
Plus, it includes some selected anecdotes and stories of other babies and parents along the way. Got any story of yours?
A week-by-week post will be added on a weekly basis from January 2012. The Toddler Talk in ASL will launch in January 2013 with the posts also added on a weekly basis.
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*Note: "baby sign language" is an inappropriate term.
Research and discovery
Is there manual babbling in sign language? Yes. Does signed language activate in the same left cerebral regions as spoken language? Yes. Is a signed language (e.g. ASL, Auslan, etc) a real human language? Yes. Does sign language have linguistics? Yes.
Intriguing? Doubtful? Makes sense? It depends on how you grew up with your beliefs and values. Research studies in the fields from neuroscience to linguistics can confirm these.
Does first signed words (signs) emerge before first spoken words? No. Are some signs used with babies iconic? No.
Not only Dr. Petitto's scientific research work has confirmed these, but also my firsthand observation of my baby from birth fits well with her findings (at least in the first year -- babyhood).
See bibliography for further information. Also those blog posts (under the "nature/nurture" section) also will discuss on different topics from research findings.
Sign language has been around as old as speech language or as old as humans emerged. Unfortunately, research on language acquisition in signlan used by native signers was just the beginning.
Why? Sign language and sighting people have been pushed far to the margin of society worldwide for thousands of years (except for the "golden periods").
Sign language has prospered from the 1960s when ASL linguistics was founded by Dr. William Stokoe at Gallaudet University, Washington, D.C.
Since then, sighting people and like-minded hearing people have made many contributions to the world in some fields, such as ASL linguistics, language acquisition, visual learning research, visual arts, literature and such.
Research studies have grown, but there are still some much more to research. I hope some ideas in this project will be some inpirational seeds that will spring up in some more research in the future.
Imagine a scenario in the maternity room at a hospital. Joyful parents hold their newborn in their arms. They smile and talk greetings in English. In the meanwhile, a family in the next room is Ameslan who hold their newborn and speak in ASL.
Babies' brains are not a "blank slate" and are wired to process language.
Then the same families go home with their babies. The baby in the English-speaking family goes through the vocal babbling stage until they can say "mama", "tata" or "dada" before she/he can speak a more complex word, "mother".
Whereas in parallel, the baby in the Ameslan family goes through the manual babbling stage until she/he can articulate a more complex ASL word "mother".
"Deny it to the mouth and it will dart out through the fingers." -- linguist Lila Gleitmanof, the University of Pennsylvania.
Longitudinal studies show the same predetermined stages of language development and acquisition in deaf and hearing children in signlan and speech respectively:
- from manual / vocal play
- to manual / vocal babbling and manual/vocal gesture (prelinguistic communication)
- to early lexical development
- to full-fledged language.
A bimodal-bilingual infant who is exposed to both signlan and speech from birth even reach the same milestones in both speech and signlan.
The online documentary "Baby Talk in ASL" shows a detailed development and acquisition of a bilingual and bimodal of the infant.