Talking about non-present referents

Juli began to talk more and more about some referents that were not present nor in contexts, which meant she was thinking about things. It somehow correlated to the recent development of pretend play and imagination.

Thinking means the less use of pointing. Thus, it presented a bit more challenge to figure out what she talked about.

Pointing to referents presented an easy context to recognize the ASL words, but sometimes it could be difficult when they were not present. For example, those concepts shoes, ball, and more constituted the same production that I couldn't read Juli's concepts in mind.

But, on the other hand, sometimes I could understand her productions easily, depending on what ASL words were. For example, her production dirty was distinct from any other productions.

One day Juli came to me and produced vacuum with a question mark on her look. Not sure what she wanted with one word utterance, I simply replied Vacuum? Yes, ok.

Juli smiled brightly and excitedly toddled toward the closet, waiting for me to open it. I learned that she was asking for permission, "Can I play with vacuum?"

Another one was that Juli looked at me and produced father. I replied, "Oh, he's still out." Juli responded work. I nodded, yes.

These ones were easy, but there were other moments that Juli talked about things I tried to figure out her ASL productions which were not phonologically acquired yet.

For example, Juli just started producing lady+bug (ladybug) that was not clearly recognizable (too complex to produce at her age). I could recognize her production in context but not out of context.

The other day Juli produced phone (correct location, but "A" handshape) when my cellphone vibrated. I had to figure out what she talked about. At first, I thought mother, but the movement was not the same. Then, the thought of the cellphone came to me quickly. I checked and found out I received a new message.

The "pointing-and-naming" stage was about to be over. Now then Juli pointed to her thoughts.

Use of referential ASL words

The following referential words that Juli has used this week: shoes (similar to the production of "more"), grandmother (for weeks now, difficult to capture on video), some more shown in the video above, and other reguarly used ASL words.

Dude reported that Juli told him eat, hungry and came to the highchair and pointed to it. I brought her to the highchair and fed her.

Juli uttered mother+father (two-word phrase as in "parents"). She used the "A" handshape for "mother" and the 20-handshape for "father". But, lately she occasionally used the "1" (index finger) handshape for either of these ASL words.

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.