Baby talk, first language acquisition

The two-word stage in sign language

In a normal language development between 18 and 24 months, toddlers use two-word utterances more when speaking (manual or vocal). The two-word sentences may contain two nouns or a noun and a verb.

Emerging two-word utterances in sign language

At 14 months old, the baby Juli (1;2,4) began to utter two-word phrases sometimes around this time, her articulation or production became more clear.

At the very end of that week (age 1;4,1), in all sudden one Friday night, Juli produced some two-word utterances as follows:

Juli (1;4,1) asked for a star snack star eat/food in the gallery room. Then she led me to the kitchen cabinet. After eating, Juli uttered finished/done eating.

That same night, my cellphone vibrated on my desk. Juli told me phone.. phone father. I turned to look. Sure enough, there was a new message lit up on my cellphone screen.

At bedtime in her room, Juli relaxed and fed for an hour and then got up. She uttered eat grape. She led to the downstairs. She became highly energetic and bouncy.

(1;4,2) A friend Rene who had his signed name sat under the gazebo outside. Juli stood on the other side of the yard and produced friend Rene.

Juli (1;4,2) toddled around near the shoes. She pointed at the shoes and mumbled mine shoes.

Outside in the yard, Juli (1;4,2) produced grass father, referring to her father who mowed the grass the day before or so.

Sitting in the highchair, Juli (1;4,2) asked for more dragon fruit (see video). The other day, she pointed at the pan which her father was cooking with the day before. She uttered cook father.

One morning Juli (1;4,2) woke up and got up. Right away she produced hungry eat (open palm on her torso and 20-handshape twice on her mouth).

The stage of two-word utterance

The baby Juli produced her first two-word utterance long before the second one at 14 months. Back then, 14 months old Juli pointed and then produced milk cow, where she produced "cow" with the two-handed "20" handshape.

On the last day of the 14th month, out of blue sky, the baby Juli had begun producing more than a few two-word utterances in ASL in single day.

For example, dad/firefighter drive. Slowly one after another two-word phrase began to emerge more and more in the next days/weeks.

For example, one day as Juli's father exited, I explained to Juli in ASL, translated as, Dad is gone for work. He drives to work. Juli thought for a moment and produced two words: work dad.

At one point (as seen in the video at age 1, month 3) Juli produced a three-word utterance (work dad [signed]); unfortunatley, I couldn't identify the last third production.

Then, two-word utterances came in constantly after 14 months of age, which was the time I recognized as the emergence of two-word utternace stage.

Between the first several two-word utterances at 14 months old (1;2) and 17 months old this week (1;5,2), Juli constantly used two-word or sometimes multi-word utterances.

Typically they say a toddler learns "10 new words per day" at 18-20 months in spoken language. It is the phase when a toddler began to pick up 10 words per day. It was not like a out of blue sky but there must be a progress toward that.

That is, 17-month-old Juli began to exhibit a gradually increasing number of words a day. She picked up more and more words a day, gradually. Two-word utterances continued to expand.

A number of two-word utterances had increased much more than before. Juli uttered at least few two-word phrases on a daily basis. Plus, multi-word utterances began to emerge a little more and more in the next weeks. She uttered more than a few words that I couldn't capture all but some.

Now Juli seemed a bit more comfortable with producing recognizable two-word utterances a bit more regularly. Below are some examples from the last two weeks.

Two-word utterances from last week

Holding in my arm, Juli looked at the little trinket of a sleeping cat on the kitchen window shelf. She pointed at the cat and uttered cat sleep.

At naptime in her dark bedroom, Juli stopped and turned to look at me. She signed eat grapes. I replied,(translated as) "Nono, it's time to sleep now." Lately, she did that sometimes.

Juli managed her fear well through the carwash. We used the ASL sign/word "bath" to comfort her car bath. As soon as we exited the carwash, Juli uttered water bath done.

And, vacuum father ("Dad is vacuuming"), vacuum done ("The vacuum has stopped."), baby bird (from memory of a baby bird in our backyard one raining day), more cookie...

Two-word utterances this week

Juli, sitting in highchair at mealtime, uttered friend girl bye-bye where the production "bye-bye" was in a referential space in the direction toward the door.

At bedtime and naptime in her bedroom, Juli would sometimes "got up". Then she looked at me and articulated eat cherry. She was unlikely hungry but she likely wanted to continue playing or hanging around.

Another night, I had been trying to help her to sleep. Everything was quiet and still, holding her in my arms. Suddenly, Juli burst and clearly articulated poop dog! poop poop dooooggg! poop dog poop dog!! I nodded and smiled.

Earlier that day on our short walk, Juli stopped and observed a woman walking with a dog. Then, the dog found a spot to do his/her poop. I explained Juli that the dog was making a poop.

Back home, Juli told her father Dude a story, dog poop. Dude was like "huh"? I explained what we saw.

Back to that night, Juli continued poop! She pointed at the door few times. I asked you juli poop?. Juli somehow began to shift on talking about herself. I began to think maybe it was her potty need.

She probably tricked me but it was all worth trying her first potty success. I brought her to the bathroom and she pointed at the toilet and uttered poop, poop!. I put her on the potty. Nothing happened.

After shopping, Juli was put in the carseat. She looked out the window and uttered many cars.

Juli and I got up one early morning. Dude was still sleeping. As Juli and I walked down the stairs, she articulated father sleep.. father sleep.

She hanged around at the bathtub playing with a stacking cup of some water. She attempted to drink from it, but I discouraged her from doing it. She looked at me and articulated water drink.

On the last day of this week, sitting in highchair, out of blue sky, Juli articulated poop! poop! poop dog, dirty, stinky! Four words! She produced these so clearly.

Others were father pants (then pointing at the pants), dirty, clean-up (referring to the highchair tray), many spiders (reading at mealtime)...

Use of ASL words

The following referential words that Juli has used this week: gorilla (often used), giraffe (one of her two new loveys), lightning (lightning and thunder that one night), drawing, bug, some more shown in the video above, and some reguarly used ASL words.

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Expressing needs and wants

  1. Making commands or requests

Talking about activities

  1. Frequency of time: how often?

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Stories, poems, performance arts, etc. in sign language.

This documentation project follows a child's language acquisition, literacy development, and phonological acquisition in sign language, specifically ASL, from newborn to age five in a natural native-ASL environment and visual culture.