Baby signing as a language socialization: the use of visual-gestural signs with hearing infants

Autor/a: PIZER, Ginger
Año: 2003
Editorial: Texas Linguistic Forum 47 (2003) pp. 165-171
Tipo de código: Copyright
Soporte: Digital


Educación, Educación » Adquisición y desarrollo del lenguaje


Across America, hearing parents are encouraging their hearing 1-year-olds to use visual-gestural signs, either ASL signs or invented symbolic gestures, hoping to promote earlier and clearer parent-child communication. Most baby-signing families have no exposure to a natural sign language or to the Deaf community. Spoken English remains the families’ main communication mode, with parents signing occasionally as they speak and children producing single signs, words, or sign-word pairs. Once the children become proficient in speech, most families stop signing. This paper investigates the role of baby signing in hearing children’s language socialization, with attention to the language ideologies that underlie the practice. Data were collected from three sources: 1) videotapes of three baby-signing 1-year-olds interacting with other family members at home, 2) interviews with the children’s parents, and 3) writings on baby signing in the mass media and online. Both the existence of baby signing and the ways that it is used are consistent with the portrait of middle class American language socialization given in Ochs and Schieffelin (1984), but individual families vary in their uses of signs depending on their children’s development and on their families’ interactional styles.