First language

Baby expressing manners and appreciation in sign language

Before the baby "Juli" can express in ASL words, the earliest behavior demonstrates her appreciation through a thank-you kiss.

One evening after my work, I texted Grandma to let her know I was on my way home. Grandma told Juli (age 1;0) mother drive-car home soon. Juli leaned toward Grandma and kissed on her cheek with closed lips (you see, normally she kissed me with open lips, wet but sweet).

The special moment of the kiss melted Grandma's heart. Grandma felt as if Juli thanked her or showed her appreciation for communication. Imagine a life without access to information and telecommunication. Grandma was able to faciliate information between me and Juli who felt at ease to know what was going on.

Teaching manners

Her todderhood had emerged more and more, I began to introduce manner words to Juli (age 1;0,2).

Juli often playfully took my glasses. After she's satisfied, I uttered give+me mother eyeglasses please and extended my hand. Eventually, she handed me back my glasses. I responded thank-up, thank-you.

Juli (age 1;2) stood in the middle of my bedroom and pointed at the treasure box. She looked "please" and produced necklace.

There was no necklace in that box. I pointed to the donwnstairs. I gestured "come-here" repeatedly and explained that necklace down-there, come-here. Look-for necklace, come-here.

Juli finally toddled toward me. We went downstairs. In the kitchen, I uttered Look-for necklace, look-for+++. Nothing. In the living room, I did the same. Nothing.

I led Juli into my den. Actually I knew all along the way where the necklace was. Juli stood in the doorway while I uttered Look-for+++ Ah! I pointed at the necklace lying on the floor and told Juli Found!

Juli entered and took a look. She forwarded to pick it up. She looked in my eyes and ultra-clearly uttered Thank-you. I stood there astounded.

Likewise, a previous week, I did something and Juli uttered thank-you. I asked myself did she really articulate that? Did I really see that? Now I know it's sure enough.

Requesting with "please"

Whenever Juli (age 1;2) wanted to go to the basement, she stood in front of the gate and pointed at it. Not in mood, I introduced please to her to convince myself. After a few practices, she began to use please after pointing at the gate.

Furthermore, she also practiced please when pointing at the washing machine (to get up on the top of it), when pointing at the light switch, and some other requests.

Toddler expressing manners

Expressing an apology

Two weeks ago Juli (age 1;6) and a girl bumped into each other at the park. Juli uttered sorry which was a perfect production. Another bumpy accident occurred and Juli again signed sorry. It was not the first time she produced this, but this time she did on her own.

This week Juli scribbled on the floor with a washable marker again and again. I had had enough and put the marker away. I explained in ASL (translated as) "Stop scribbling on the floor. No more drawing for now." As I was washing away the marks, Juli approached me and clearly uttered sorry. It was quite not expecting. She understood the concept of an apology.

Asking with the ASL word "please"

Two weeks later, the toddler Juli (age 1;8) used the ASL word please when asking for her dad's smartphone. She also used it when she wanted to watch the documentary movie.

When Juli asked for the "Babies" film, baby movie, she would give me a pursed-lip kiss (no wet kiss) and a hug whenever I didn't allow. She learned this little bribery a couple of weeks ago, but eventually learned that it didn't work anymore (not always).

So now, Juli would utter please whenever she asked for the smartphone and her father didn't give. He had taught her to sign please. Now he couldn't reject her manner.

Another time a week later, Juli asked for a piece of candy. I told her that she already had one today and no more. She clearly uttered please, please.

From here on, Juli used the ASL word please somehow often to get what she wanted.

Forward, the 21-month-old toddler Juli continued to use please or pleeaassseee to get what she wanted. But, eventually she learned that it wasn't always the magic word. Only some. Nor was her tantrum helpful.

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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.