ASL Polar Express Shows Off Developing Language Skills

Rejoice! Shaylee, the daughter of ASL Nook’s Sheena McFeely and Manny Johnson, is back with a new ASL Christmas story. We've been watching her storytelling skills develop for a few years now. When she was 4, we cooed over her version of The Night Before Christmas. The next year she made our hearts grow three sizes with How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Then last year we laughed and shouted out with glee at the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Though ASL is in many ways different from spoken language, when it comes to the timeline of natural childhood language acquisition, it is almost exactly the same. (Shaylee's parents are Deaf signers, so her environment is an ideal one for this process to unfold.) At 4, we saw her get comfortable with grammatical concepts like topic/comment structure. At 5, she expertly navigated the expression of character perspective. At 6, her understanding of narrator voice was solid. Now, with this performance of The Polar Express, we can see an impressive mastery of ever more subtle and complex aspects of storytelling, like prosody.

Prosody refers to rhythm and voice intonation in spoken language. For sign, there is no vocal intonation, but there are prosodic features like blinks, eye gaze, body shifts, and the tension and speed of signs. Because there is so much vocabulary in common among Christmas stories, we can take a look at prosody development by comparing the same signs from Shaylee now with three years ago.

For example, note the difference between "Santa gets on his sleigh" then and now. The first has a cute, babyish "tone of voice." The second has a mature, narrator tone.

The articulation of the sign itself on the hands is crisper, neater, and, with regard to narration, more intentional. The same can be seen in the change to "very old" in the last few years.

Thanks again, Shaylee! For sharing your holiday spirit with us, and for showing us the marvel of language acquisition in action.

Afternoon Map
The Richest Person of All Time From Each State

Looking for inspiration in your quest to become a billionaire? This map from cost information website, spotted by Digg, highlights the richest person in history who hails from each of the 50 states.

More billionaires live in the U.S. than in any other country, but not every state has produced a member of the Three Comma Club (seven states can only lay claim to millionaires). The map spans U.S. history, with numbers adjusted for inflation. One key finding: The group is overwhelmingly male, with only three women represented.

The richest American by far was John D. Rockefeller, repping New York with $257.25 billion to his name. Amazon's Jeff Bezos and Microsoft's Bill Gates clock in at the third and fifth richest, respectively. While today they both make their homes in the exclusive waterfront city of Medina, Washington, this map is all about birthplace. Since Gates, who is worth $90.54 billion, was born in Seattle, he wins top billing in the Evergreen State, while Albuquerque-born Bezos's $116.57 billion fortune puts New Mexico on the map.

The richest woman is South Carolina's Anita Zucker ($3.83 billion), the CEO of InterTech Group, a private, family-owned chemicals manufacturer based in Charleston. Clocking in at number 50 is the late, great socialite Brooke Astor—who, though a legend of the New York City social scene, was a native of New Hampshire—with $150 million.

[h/t Digg]

Gergely Dudás - Dudolf, Facebook
There’s a Ghost Hiding in This Illustration—Can You Find It?
Gergely Dudás - Dudolf, Facebook
Gergely Dudás - Dudolf, Facebook

A hidden image illustration by Gergely Dudás, a.k.a. Dudolf
Gergely Dudás - Dudolf, Facebook

Gergely Dudás is at it again. The Hungarian illustrator, who is known to his fans as “Dudolf,” has spent the past several years delighting the internet with his hidden image illustrations, going back to the time he hid a single panda bear in a sea of snowmen in 2015. In the years since, he has played optical tricks with a variety of other figures, including sheep and Santa Claus and hearts and snails. For his latest brainteaser, which he posted to both his Facebook page and his blog, Dudolf is asking fans to find a pet ghost named Sheet in a field of white bunny rabbits.

As we’ve learned from his past creations, what makes this hidden image difficult to find is that it looks so similar to the objects surrounding it that our brains just sort of group it in as being “the same.” So you’d better concentrate.

If you’ve scanned the landscape again and again and can’t find Sheet to save your life, go ahead and click here to see where he’s hiding.


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