Like all good things, some previous entity of it existed before only to be recycled into something the next generation thinks is “new.” Sign language has been around for a long, long time. For as long as people where deaf, there was a method to communicate, and before this, when we all lacked spoken language (think in evolutionary time blocks), we used some from of body language to convey thoughts to one another. This is the how and the why of silent communication, however, there’s more to baby sign language than this.
For over 30 years experts have been dabbling in baby sign language, but it wasn’t until it made its big screen début in the Hollywood movie Meet The Fockers, that it gained it’s rightful foothold on the general population. I don’t use “rightful” loosely either, I really do think all parents should use signs with their children, but this is for another discussion.
In the movie Robert De Niro’s character Jack Byrnes teaches his grandson “Little Jack” (actor Bradley and Spencer Pickren) sign language. In the movie, he shows Ben Stiller’s character Greg Focker, baby sign language flash cards depicting various signs.
A scene from the movie goes as follows:
GREG: “Oh yeah, I’ve heard about this baby signing stuff, this is like cutting edge…”
JACK: “Well at his age, Greg, his mind is like a sponge. But when he reaches your age, for example, his mind will be far less capable of absorbing useful information.”
I will applaud the movie since Little Jack signs well and accurately. This is likely the reason the movie launched baby sign language to the forefront – this and the fact that the movie does an excellent job at explaining why sign language is important to infants. Like all good trends, baby sign language needed a solid boost and Hollywood rose to fill the job. After the movie aired in 2004 it sparked worldwide interest in baby sign language. It didn’t take parents long to figure out that baby sign language was a real thing and that it produced real measurable benefits. Not only this, but the audience learned that signing was useful to hearing babies too.
Baby Sign Language Clip From Meet The Fockers: