The emergence of ASL numeral incorporation

The toddler Juli had incorporated a number with an ASL pronoun! Numeral incorporation is a morphological process that an ASL number is incorporated with a regular ASL sign, mostly with pronouns and tenses. It's like a "blend" of two words in any language.

Last week, as I was sitting on the loveseat, Juli asked me you play here. Then Juli attempted to pull me off. She made it clear, you play, ix-me play same-as-you-me. Then she surprised me next, two-of-us play. She was introduced to this concept recently and now she used it more than few times last week.

This week, Juli continued to use the ASL pronoun two-of-us. Juli wanted me to join in her bath party, you-us bathe ix-here.

The emergence of number incorporation with "3"

At the right time for her third birthday, the handshape "3" emerged. It took three years to phonologically develop the ASL handshape "3". When asking her how old she was, she replied three.

At month three (week 2), the numeral incorporation of the plural pronoun "three-of-us" emerged. She signed three-us go basement (referring to her grandmother, herself and me) at Grandma Z's house. She continued to use this plural pronoun from time to time.

Usage of numeral incorporation

Picking up Juli (age 3;4) at her preschool one day, we walked together toward the parking lot. Juli told me, two-of-us go-to food store, #ok (where #ok was pronounced in ASL as #k). With a big smile, I shook my head. Juli bursted into a big smile. She knew she tried her luck but no luck.

Language development

Juli continued to articulate ASL phrases and words that showed more abstract concepts, such as have, some concepts of time, promise, and such.

For example, I don't recall using the ASL sign ribbon for a very long time, though infrequently. Juli pointed to the image of a cat with the ribbon on her dress and told me in ASL, ix-me want ix-me have ribbon.

One bedtime, I put Juli on the bed and we exchanged our usual ILY routine. As I turned around for the light to turn off, Juli quickly signed, you good girl.

One late morning, Juli had been dawdling around. Finally, it was time to go and I had an idea. I explained to Juli in ASL, translated as, "Okay, I will text Grandma Z to come here and watch you while I'm going to the store." I knew and anticipated very much that she would want to come and would comply. Sure enough, Juli had a wait-a-minute look, Umm, ix-me go store same-you.

One day, Juli saw me making a drizzle cake. She signed ix-you make drizzle+cake.

The other day, in front of the mega legos, Juli expressed, ix-me want make house.. father house.

Related posts

Also see Toddler expressing concepts of time

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.