Fis phenomenon in sign language

Fis phenomenon is a classical phenomenon of child language acquisition that demonstrates a child's perception of language units that occur earlier than the ability of the child's phonological production.

The term "Fis" comes from a incident in 1960 by the U.S. psychologists Jean Berko Gleason (1931-) and Roger Brown (1925–1997). In this scenario, the child called his plastic fish a "fis". But, when the adult pronounced "fis", the child refused to accept the adult's pronunciation "fis" but accepted "fish" only.

This is also another illustration of the child's skills in comprehension that generally precedes skills in language production.

A similar "fis" phenomenon in American Sign Language with the toddler "Juli" was observed several times in the last few weeks with the ASL word "water". For example, one day Juli stood outside with her rocks in her hands and talked to me through the door window.

Juli produced ix-rock water ix-loc(hose) (with the "20" handshape error for "water"). I explained in ASL (translated as), "No, you cannot eat these rocks."

Juli realized that I interpreted her "water" production as "eat/food". She corrected herself and repeated water with the "W" handshape. I responded, "Ah, you want to use the water hose there?" Juli nodded.

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.