The one word stage begins at around first birthday as commonly found in spoken language acquistion. Sign language is no exception. As the baby Juli approached her first birthday, one referential ASL word after another began to unfold more and relatively quicker.
The baby Juli's first birthday. Her daily vocabulary gradually increased and expanded
It was amazing to watch Juli unfolding obscure productions (what were once thought of as babbles) into more recognizable ASL words. Also, sometimes she imitated or produced a ASL word right away when I uttered to her an ASL word.
Juli ate some pieces of a melon for the past few days. I introduced the ASL word to her. Lately, she produced: right-handed open palm onto left-handed top of the hand, moving twice.
One Monday evening in highchair Juli produced the same when she pointed to the melon cubes in a bowl on the countertop on her left side. Then later, she uttered the same when she pointed and/or gazed at some canteloupe and honeydew (I tended to cluster them all into the "melon" family).
Other words that Juli imitated when we signed were: comb-hair (Juli produced with left-handed index-finger moving down her head), cook, scared, and some others.
One day I gave Juli a new book "Lift and Learn". Juli produced herself the ASL word apple with the distinct (and correct) movement (left-handed) when she came across an image of two apples.
"Is that right?" I thought. First, I had never seen her uttering apple before.
Second, it was the first time she looked at that image (and that book), that is, in a new context.
Third, we hadn't eaten an apple in a very long time except for once a little while ago.
A few days later, I finally captured her production (right-handed this time) on video. Sure enough, she produced the same. Babies do have good memories.
The ASL words melon, penguin, and apple were the ones that Juli uttered them herself without me signing when she came across the images.
Got a story to tell your experience and share it with others? Send an email to Handspeak. I'd love to hear about it, too.
The hard-of-hearing baby just turned one year old. He signed "horse" in ASL. Notice that the baby used the handshape "15" of "HORSE" instead of the handshape "13" at this phonological stage.
You may be also interested in two-word utterance stage 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.