ASL phonology in handshape errors

Phonological errors are part of phonological processes in which children learn how to coordinate their articulators to produce a word.

For example, in speech, a toddler may pronounce "car" as "gar", "red" as "ret", "ant" as "at", and so on. That goes the same in sign language.

Each child acquires phonologically in different ways, but follow phonological preocesses in the same natural way. Below is a sample of the child Juli's phonological acquisition.

Forming the handshape W for F

Last weeks I mentioned that the toddler Juli used the "W" handshape in replacement of "F" in ASL words/signs cat, fox and such. Likewise, last week she did the same for First Nations.

In addition, Juli also used the "W" handshape for "open 8" handshape as in sick and for the handshape ILY in airplane and ILY.

The ILY handshape is supposed to be one of some difficult handshapes to manipulate and it is one of some phonological primes to acquire some time later.

Forming the handshape "A" for "J"

Juli had been using the handshape "1" in juice for a very long time -- perhaps a year. An interesting recent change was made, in which Juli used the handshape "A" for "juice".

Why the handshape "A"? My thought is that this handshape "A" is the closest to the handshape "J". Sooner or later, her little pinkie would pop up to make a "J".

A week later (2;3,2), Juli was seen to continue using the "A" handshape for "J" when producing juice.

Other phonological development

An odd emergence was that Juli transitioned from the correct handshape "1" to the handshape error "U" in cry. Maybe the handshape "U" was the central theme of her acquisition that it affected the other ASL signed words.

A few weeks ago in my post, I mentioned that Juli was about to count up to 5 or more. But, she couldn't produce some ASL numbers because of the difficult handshapes, especially with "2" or "V", "3", "4".

A friend reported that Juli was vocally counting "one, two, three" in another room. I caught Juli trying to count from one to five by skipping the middle three by simply producing one [bounces] five (with the bouncing movement between one and five).

Language development

Some of the following random words and phrases that Juli used this week: game, new, some more shown in the video above, and other ASL words mentioned in the past months.

This documentation project follows a baby's language acquisition, literacy development, and phonological acquisition in sign language, specifically ASL, week by week from gazing at birth to manual babbling, to first words just before the first birthday in a natural native-ASL environment and visual culture.

The second-year and third-year documentation continues to follow the same child's language and phonological acquisition and literacy development in ASL on a weekly basis from the one-word stage to two-word and multiple utterances.

The documentary continues to follow the same child's ASL language and literacy development on a regular basis from age three to four. It surveys ASL phonological acquisition and more complex utterances.

These posts on ASL-English bilingualism, language acquisition, and bilingual education may be of an interest for parents who raise a bilingual-bimodal child in ASL (or another signed language) and English (or another written and/or spoken language of its respective) as well as informative and educational for ASL specialists, educators, and professionals.