Baby Talk: misconceptions and clarifications
Baby Talk is a growing common practice in child development. The underlying idea about "baby signing" is simply that babies are capable of expressing needs using a language by coordinating their manual articulators (hands, fingers, arms, etc.) earlier before they can coordinate their vocal articulators (lips, tongue, diaphragm, glottis, etc).
Baby signing began drawing its public attention in the mid-1990s (but, sign language has been around as old as speech language). Since then, some misconceptions about sign language in the media have been prevalent that need to be clarified.
"Baby sign language" claims that babies can express in signing a few months earlier than in speaking. This is based on older studies in which motor production was interpreted differently and incorrectly (e.g. gesture vs lexical item; non-referential signs and manual babbles for "first signs", etc.)
Research studies (Petitto and Marentette) show that all stages or milestones of language acquisition are on the same timeline in both modalities.
Even, a study shows that bilingual, bimodal hearing children, who were exposed to signed and spoken languages from birth, exhibit equal linguistic milestones in both modalities from vocal and manual babbling to first words/signs and so on. My own bilingual-bimodal child has verified this in my personal longitudinal study.
"Baby sign language" is mistermed.
First of all, "baby sign language" is not a language per se. In general, hearing parents use ASL words only (or words of another signed language) to talk with their babies.
The equivalent term "baby speech language" is not used in daily language or in literature.
Instead, use the term "Baby Talk in ASL" (or another language). This language (ASL) is used to communicate with babies in the same way everyone communicates in English with their babies.
"Baby sign language dictionary"
Again, the same ignorance for the phrase "baby sign language dictionary". Use the phrase "basic ASL dictionary" instead.
ASL words are not gestures.
ASL signs are words, not gestures. Waving byes and kiss-blowing are gestures, not "a form of sign language."
Every language and culture deserve an equal respect. Respecting the people of our language and culture the same way you respect other spoken languages is greatly valued and appreciated.