Preschooler using reflexive pronouns in sign language

Reflexive pronouns usually emerge within 36-48 months in spoken language, specifically English, such as "myself" and "herself". Within the same timeline, reflexive pronouns indeed emerge in sign language.

Those days the preschooler (age 3;3) Juli had become more independent that she wanted to do things by herself. She would sign, me, me, me!. In these contexts, I knew it was time to introduce her to the concept of a reflexive pronoun in American Sign Language (ASL).

Whenever Juli got off the car, she would want to close the door herself by signing me, me, me!. The first time I introduced her to myself in this context, I took the opportunity of this teachable moment.

In no time, Juli uttered myself!! whenever she wanted to do by herself in several new contexts. For example, as I was about to help her with putting a pen in the holder, she stopped me, myself!

To confirm whether she really understand the concept of reflexive pronouns, I was waiting for the day she signed yourself. A week or two later, sure enough, she told me yourself! when she wanted me to do it myself.

Language development

Some of the following examples that Juli had uttered during the month of April: dinosaur cl-catch eat you, ix-me text for father, soon baby born ix(yolk)+, ix not work! ("It (ipad) isn't working!"), and some more.

Juli talked about some things on the theme of spring lately: bear wake-up come-here home. bear play with mother bear.

Sometimes Juli talked about how she would be able to take candies and chocolates from the high cabinet as she pleased when she grew up tall enough to reach for them. ix-me grow-up, ix-me can get candy!. I sensed that there is a conditional clause in this, using "when" as in English but "eyebrows-up" in ASL.

As Juli was eating one morning silently, out of blue sky, she told me, father work firefighter. you work university, not firefighter. I nodded in agreement. She added, you work firefighter, not! and she laughted. Then she continued after I got the camera quickly, father work firefighter. you work university. father work university, not!. She laughed.

Related posts

Also see a preschooler using demonstrative pronoun, third-person pronoun, and indefinite pronoun in sign language.

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.