Linguistic vs gestural pointing

As the toddler Juli was about to turn 17 months old, a striking difference about pointing began to emerge.

Unlike finger pointing in a prelinguistic form of gesture, Juli began to use a very sharp pointing that was distinct. At first I noticed for a while over a month ago but didn't really think about it until I began to realize when I edited the video.

Once I became aware of it, I asked myself. Is it the form of linguistic pronoun and --- (equivalent to English "there" or "it")?

Though gestural (prelinguistic) pointing and linguistic pointing take the same form, neurolinguistic studies may show different processes in the brain. The former is not linguistic but the latter is.

Gestural (non-linguistic) pointing emerges at about 9 months in both signing and speaking children. At about 18 months, both speaking and signing children begin to use personal pronouns and make the same pronoun reversal errors. At this age, these toddlers may use names instead of personal pronouns to avoid pronoun reversal errors.

The reversal errors in signing children is another evidence that gesture (non-linguistic) and language (linguistic) are separate in the brain.

As Juli was approaching the 18 month mark, sometimes I wondered: where both gestural and linguistic pointing are similar in production, how will I know when linguistic pronoun began to emerge.

Now Juli produced "pointing" that was distinctly different from gestural pointing. I began to wonder whether it was the emergence of a linguistic form.

Referential-locative pointing

A few weeks ago, sitting behind Juli, I asked her in front of the mirror, "Where is Mother?" She pointed at me over her shoulder, not at the mirror.

Another thing this week, one bedtime Juli in my arms facing away from the bedroom door pointed her finger at the door over her shoulder and produced father.. father. She pointed at him in the right directiona gain and again.

Juli, sitting in highchair at mealtime, uttered friend girl bye-bye where she straigthened her arm during the production "bye-bye" and pointed in the direction toward the door. Pointing toward the door is partly literal and partly symbolic.

Possessive pronoun

Grandma Z who babysat Juli reported that Juli did a good job with possessive pronouns mine and yours talking about Juli's tricycle and Z's car. But, I had to see for myself.

Use of ASL words and utterances

The following referential words and phrases that Juli had used this week: drawing, father work, lightning, rain, mother hair (she found and identified my one hair), video, ball girl('s), father home, chess, some more shown in the video above, and some reguarly used ASL words.

As we descended the stairs one day, Juli stopped in the middle of the stairs and articulated slide drive. She was asking for going out for the park.

One early morning Juli sat up on my lap in the kitchen. She pointed at the doorway and uttered ladybug, bug, bee.

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.