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Early Communicative Gestures and Vocabulary Knowledge
Dalarna University, School of Humanities and Media Studies, English.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7179-5750
2015 (English)Conference paper, Poster (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This poster presents work on the relationships between early communicative gestures and vocabulary knowledge in Swedish children aged 12 to 18 months. The role of gestures in early communicative development was studied using vocabulary measurements collected with the Swedish versions of the MacArthur-Bates CDI infant and toddler forms. In a larger study, correlations were calculated among communicative skills over 6-month intervals from child age 1;0 to 2;6 in a sample with varying numbers of children at different ages. The poster presents results from the first pairwise comparison using cross-sectional and cross-lagged correlations. Variables included gestures, receptive and productive vocabulary at 1;0, and productive vocabulary and the syntactic/grammatical measure M3L at 1;6 (n = 321). Gestures at 1;0 were more strongly correlated with receptive than productive vocabulary at the same age, and weakly correlated with productive vocabulary at 1;6. Additional analysis divided the gesture scale into “empty-hand” gestures and “object actions”, following Sansavini et al. (2010). Empty-hand gestures were found to be more related to productive vocabulary, while object-actions were more related to reception. Despite differences in methodology, results of the present study confirm some findings by Sansavini et al. Further analysis of the Swedish data showed that empty-hand gestures were significantly, but weakly, correlated with the percentage of nouns in children’s vocabularies at 1;6, whereas children’s use of object-actions were similarly correlated with the percentage of verbs. Results of this analysis may indicate that empty-hand gestures, which most often are deictic gestures, help infants enhance their knowledge of objects and their names, while activities with objects help them understand the concepts related to actions, particularly verbs. Such knowledge has implications for both parents and other caregivers who are invested in stimulating the language development of young children.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
National Category
Languages and Literature
Research subject
Education and Learning
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-20620OAI: oai:DiVA.org:du-20620DiVA: diva2:891315
Gesture in Language Development Workshop, Child Language Symposium, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK July 19 2015
Available from: 2016-01-06 Created: 2016-01-06 Last updated: 2016-01-07Bibliographically approved

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