Gesture en route to words: evidence from danish and zapotec children and their caretakers
Keywords:Gesture, words, infancy, development, Danish, Zapotec, parent-infant interaction
This study explores the communicative production of gestural and vocal modalities by 8 normally developing children in two different cultures (Danish and Zapotec; Mexican indigenous) (16 to 20 months). We analyzed spontaneous production of gestures and words in children's transition to the two-word stage as well as interaction between children and their respective caretakers' use of gestural communication. Consistent with previous studies the results showed that all children used the gestural modality extensively across the two cultures. Two subgroups of children were identified regarding whether the children showed an early preference for the gestural or the vocal modality. Through Analyzes of two-element combinations of words and/or gestures, we observed a relative increase in cross-modal (gesture-word and two-word) combinations. The results are discussed in terms understanding gestures as a transition period and in relation to the degree to which gestures can be understood as a universal communicative device applied by children.
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