Toddler uttering I love you in ASL

One night the toddler Juli turned off light at her bedtime. I turned on the light, (translated as) "Wait, you forgot something."

She signed good-night and kissed me. She added, good-night, i-love you a-lot. Aww! She signed the "a lot" part of her choice herself. This was the moment!

Next night or so, Juli herself signed, "I love you always." Again this time she was not duplicating me, aww! She used the ASL word "always"!

Next night, I put her in bed and anticipated her to utter the routine in ASL. She signed ix-me love you a-lot always translated as "I love you a lot (and) always." Double "a lot" and "always"! Another surprise! Quite a Christmas gift.

At age two, Juli could only express the "ILY" with the handshape "W" (handshape error in replacement for a more difficult handshape ILY). About three months ago, she finally formed the handshape ILY.

At age two, Juli understood the concept of role-shifting pronouns and possessives that she used them correctly. But, she could always tease me nightly by uttering "I Love me" and waited for me to playfully look sad. Then she would turn to "you" and I turned happy. It had been going on for months.

Now, she no longer teased me but uttered a complete sentence with the correct pronouns plus the bonuses "a lot" and "always".

Phonological development

Juli produced the ASL words with the handshape Y comfortably, such as play, stay, and now.

Language development

Not only Juli's language development in ASL was more noticeably exploding that week, but also she talked like a bit grown-up -- more interactive and suggestive. Many things she articulated were a bit more complex than before, such as the ASL words guess, now, etc.

Even she used a few signed words she brought from her bilingual preschool that I barely, if not never, used with her at home, such as: monster and my turn (I knew this one that she learned from her schoolmate "Sz". Very unlikely on my word list. Likely from her peer.

One day, there was a sudden loud sound somewhere that Juli was worried, loud. She pointed upstairs. We went upstairs to check. She said, #no now (no sound now).

Juli is such a lovely little darling that she sometimes helped herself taking something for herself but also took an extra for me (e.g. two oranges, etc). She helped herself with a muffin and took the other one for me. As she handed me the muffin, she signed, eat-it, (shake-head) put-it-back-there (Eat it. Don't put it back there.) It amused me.

ix-me look-for mouse (I'm looking for a mouse.);

Juli, sitting in her carseat, signed father house, grandfather house same-as.

Granfather K waved bye-bye to Juli and left. Before he drove off, he helped out shoveling the snow. Juli informed me, grandfather ix-there shovel snow.

Juli wanted us to jump four steps down the short stairs together. She kept insisting and I kept declining, for I was afraid of jumping over the four-step stairs. Juli explained, ix-me scared. ix-you scared. same-as-you-me. (repeated phrases) I explained her possible consequences. She thought for a moment.

Some of the following random words and phrases that Juli used this week: get-up now, ix-me guess-it, oops! (not sure what she talked about or referred to), drive-forward far, and some more shown in the video above.

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.