Research shows that three years old children can do conditional or if-then reasoning, despite the common belief that it doesn't emerge until 4-5 years in spoken language. The emergence of conditional statement in sign language acquisition fits in this timeline as well.
The ASL-speaking bilingual preschooler Juli (age 3;6) and I had a fun chat about civil services (firefighter, police, and ambulance) and other related topics.
During this conversation, I caught Juli using a partial "if" conditional statement for the first time, if man drives fast, .... I replied, If... what?. Juli completed, police will stop!.
Prior to this time, Juli also appeared to use "when clause" using "before". For example, she signed before you baby, ix-me watched you getting-immunized. Also another time, she signed before ix-me baby, ix-me cried with grandmother. you presentation/lecture (Translated as "When I was baby, I cried with my grandmother while you were (away for) the lecture."
It appeared that Juli began to understand and used a sentence that contain two clauses.
Later that month, Juli produced another clear conditional statement: if you sick, ask-me go-to hospital (translated as "If you're sick, ask me and we go to the hospital). Cute.
Since then, Juli has often used this conditional statement using IF.
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