Having brought up the subject of my twin grandchildren, Nate and Olivia, last week, I have to share a funny signing story from a while ago. The occasion was the twins’ first birthday, the sign was “more” (done very emphatically)--and the requested entity? Given the situation, you may be able to guess--and the photo may provide a clue. Yup, more cake. With their mouths stuffed to the max with the sweet stuff, the sign came in particularly handy! (Actually, given the unexpected “disappearance” of his first piece as shown in the photo, I’m surprised Nate didn’t also hold his palms out while shrugging his shoulders—the standard sign for “Where is it!”)
Nate’s enthusiastic use of the sign “more,” brings up an interesting point. It’s remarkable how quickly and apparently effortlessly babies begin generalizing the sign for “more” beyond food. Like other babies, without any prompting the twins began using it to ask for things as varied as another book, another push on the swing, more bubbles, continuation of their favorite tickle game, and even more opportunities to hang upside down from daddy’s arms! The ease with which such generalization takes place in the minds of little children speaks volumes about the unique talent the human species has for learning language. It also makes clear how desperate infants and toddlers are for ways to communicate their wants and needs to those they love and how effective signing is in filling the gap before words are possible.
Happy Signing! (And don't forget to follow us on Facebook!)
Linda Acredolo, Ph.D.
Co-Founder, the Baby Signs Program
Professor Emeritus, UC Davis