Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

A cross-linguistic study of the development of gesture and speech in Zulu and French oral narratives*

  • RAMONA KUNENE NICOLAS (a1), MICHÈLE GUIDETTI (a2) and JEAN-MARC COLLETTA (a3)

Abstract

The present study reports on a developmental and cross-linguistic study of oral narratives produced by speakers of Zulu (a Bantu language) and French (a Romance language). Specifically, we focus on oral narrative performance as a bimodal (i.e., linguistic and gestural) behaviour during the late language acquisition phase. We analyzed seventy-two oral narratives produced by L1 Zulu and French adults and primary school children aged between five and ten years old. The data were all collected using a narrative retelling task. The results revealed a strong effect of age on discourse performance, confirming that narrative abilities improve with age, irrespective of language. However, the results also showed cross-linguistic differences. Zulu oral narratives were longer, more detailed, and accompanied by more co-speech gestures than the French narratives. The parallel effect of age and language on gestural behaviour is discussed and highlights the importance of studying oral narratives from a multimodal perspective within a cross-linguistic framework.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Ramona Kunene Nicolas, Department of Linguistics, University of Witwatersrand, 1 Jan Smuts Avenue, Braamfontein, 2000, Johannesburg, South Africa. e-mail: Ramona.KuneneNicolas@wits.ac.za

Footnotes

Hide All
[*]

This research was supported by grant no. 0178-01 from the ANR (French National Research Agency) project entitled ‘L'acquisition et les troubles du langage au regard de la multimodalité de la communication parlée’. We also wish to acknowledge the generous funding by the National Research Foundation, South Africa under Grant No. 77955.

Footnotes

References

Hide All
Alibali, M. W., Kita, S. & Young, A. J. (2000). Gesture and the process of speech production: we think, therefore we gesture. Language and Cognitive Processes 15(6), 593613.
Allen, S., Özyürek, A., Kita, S., Brown, A., Furman, R., Ishizuka, T. & Fujii, M. (2007). Language-specific and universal influences in children's syntactic packaging of manner and path: a comparison of English, Japanese, and Turkish. Cognition 102, 1648.
Beattie, G. (2004). Visible thought: the new psychology of body language. New York: Routledge.
Beattie, G. & Shovelton, H. (2002). What properties of talk are associated with the generation of spontaneous iconic hand gestures? British Journal of Social Psychology 41(3), 403–17.
Berman, R. A. (2004). Language development across childhood and adolescence, Vol. 3. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Berman, R. A. (2008). The psycholinguistics of developing text construction. Journal of Child Language 35(4), 735–71.
Berman, R. A. & Slobin, D. I. (1994). Relating events in narrative: a crosslinguistic developmental study, Vol. 1. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Brookes, H. J. (2001). O clever ‘He's streetwise.’ When gestures become quotable: the case of the clever gesture. Gesture 1(2), 167–84.
Brookes, H. J. (2004). A repertoire of South African quotable gestures. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 14, 186224.
Bruner, J. (1991). The narrative construction of reality. Critical Inquiry 18(1), 121.
Calbris, G. (2011). Elements of meaning in gestures. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Capirci, O., Iverson, J. M., Pizzuto, E. & Volterra, V. (1996). Gestures and words during the transition to two-word speech. Journal of Child Language 23, 645–74.
Carmiol, A. M. & Sparks, A. (2014). Narrative development across cultural contexts. finding the pragmatic in parent–child reminiscing. In Matthews, D. (ed.), Pragmatic development in first language acquisition: trends in language acquisition research, 279–94. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Colletta, J.-M. (2004). Le développement de la parole chez l'enfant âgé de 6 à 11 ans: corps, langage et cognition. Bruxelles: Editions Mardaga.
Colletta, J.-M., Guidetti, M., Capirci, O., Cristilli, C., Demir, E., Kunene Nicolas, R. & Levine, S. (2015). Effects of age and language on co-speech gesture production: an investigation of French, American, and Italian children's narratives. Journal of Child Language 42(1), 122–45.
Colletta, J.-M., Kunene, R., Venouil, A., Kaufmann, V. & Simon, J.-P. (2009). Multi-track annotation of child language and gestures. In Kipp, M., Martin, J.-C., Paggio, P. & Heylen, D. (eds), Multimodal corpora: from models of natural interactions to systems and applications, 5472 (LNAI 5509). Berlin: Springer.
Colletta, J.-M., Pellenq, C. & Guidetti, M. (2010). Age-related changes in co-speech gesture and narrative: evidence from French children and adults. Speech Communication 52(6), 565–76.
Cristilli, C., Capirci, O. & Graziano, M. (2010). Le funzioni anaforiche della gestualità nel racconto dei bambini. In La comunicazione parlata, Vol. 3, (307339). Napoli: Università degli Studi di Napoli L'Orientale.
Demuth, K. (1992). Accessing functional categories in Sesotho: interactions at the morpho-syntax interface. In Meisel, J. (ed.), The acquisition of verb placement: functional categories and V2 phenomena in language development, 83107. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
De Ruiter, J. P. (2007). Postcards from the mind: the relationship between speech, imagistic gesture, and thought. Gesture 7(1), 2138.
Ekman, P. & Friesen, W. V. (1969). The repertoire of nonverbal behavior: categories, origins, usage, and coding. Semiotica 1(1), 4998.
Fayol, M. (1997). Des idées au texte: psychologie cognitive de la production verbale, orale et écrite. Paris: Presses universitaires de France.
Frier, C. (2006). «Au lit petit monstre»: manière de lire et aspects interactionnels des rituels familiaux des lectures partagées. In Frier, C., Grossmann, F. & Pons, M. (eds), Passeurs de lecture: lire ensemble de la maison et de l'école, 4469. Paris: Retz.
Goldin-Meadow, S. & Butcher, C. (2003). Pointing toward two-word speech in young children. In Kita, S. (ed.), Pointing: where language, culture, and cognition meet, 85107. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Graziano, M. (2009). Le développement de la relation entre les compétences verbale et gestuelle dans la construction d'un texte narratif chez l'enfant âgé de 4 à 10 ans. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Université Stendhal.
Groenewald, H. (2003). Zulu oral art. Oral Tradition 18(1), 8790.
Grossmann, F. & Grossman, F. (1996). Enfances de la lecture: manières de faire, manières de lire à l'école maternelle. Bern: Peter Lang.
Guidetti, M. (2002). The emergence of pragmatics: forms and functions of conventional gestures in young French children. First Language 22(3), 265–85.
Guidetti, M. (2005). Yes or no? How young French children combine gestures and speech to agree and refuse. Journal of Child Language 32(4), 911–24.
Guidetti, M., Fibigerova, K. & Colletta, J. C. (2014). Gesture and multimodal development. In Seyfeddinipur, M. & Gullberg, M. (eds), From gesture in conversation to visible action as utterance, 351–70. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Gullberg, M. & Narasimhan, B. (2010). What gestures reveal about the development of semantic distinctions in Dutch children's placement verbs. Cognitive Linguistics 21(2), 239–62.
Gumperz, J. J. (1982). Discourse strategies, Vol. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gxilishe, S. (2008). African languages, linguistics and child speech and speech pathology –the connection. Per Linguam: A Journal of Language Learning: Tydskrif vir Taalaanleer 24(2), 7587.
Hadley, P. A. & Schuele, C. M. (1998). Facilitating peer interaction: socially relevant objectives for preschool language intervention. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology 7(4), 2536.
Hendriks, H (2005). Culture-specific language styles: the development of oral narrative and literacy. Journal of Child Language 32, 241–7.
Hickmann, M. (2003). Children's discourse: person, space and time across languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hymes, D. (1972). On communicative competence. Sociolinguistics, 269293.
Karmiloff-Smith, A. (1985). Language and cognitive processes from a developmental perspective. Language and Cognitive Processes 1(1), 6185.
Kendon, A. (1980). Gesticulation and speech: two aspects of the process of utterance. In Key, M.R. (Ed), The relationship of verbal and non-verbal communication, 207–27. The Hague: Mouton.
Kendon, A. (1995). Gestures as illocutionary and discourse structure markers in Southern Italian conversation. Journal of Pragmatics 23(3), 247–79.
Kendon, A. (2004). Gesture: visible action as utterance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kita, S. (2009). Cross-cultural variation of speech-accompanying gestures: a review. Language and Cognitive Processes 24(2), 145–67.
Kita, S. & Özyürek, A. (2003). What does cross-linguistic variation in semantic coordination of speech and gesture reveal? Evidence for an interface representation of spatial thinking and speaking. Journal of Memory and Language 48(1), 1632.
Kita, S. & Özyürek, A. (2007). How does spoken language shape iconic gestures? Gesture and the dynamic dimension of language. In Duncan, S. D., Cassell, J. & Levy, E. T. (Eds), Essays in honor of David McNeill, 6774. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Krauss, R. M., Chen, Y. & Chawla, P. (1996). Nonverbal behavior and nonverbal communication: What do conversational hand gestures tell us? In Zanna, M. (ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology, 389450 San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Kunene, R. N. (2010). A comparative study of the development of multimodal narratives in French and Zulu children and adults. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Université Stendhal.
Labov, W. (1978). Where does the linguistic variable stop? A response to Beatriz Lavandera. Working Papers in Sociolinguistics 48, 116.
Laforest, M. (1996). De la manière d’écouter les histoires: la part du narrataire. Autour de la narration. Québec: Nuit Blanche Éditeur 7395.
Loehr, D. P. (2004). Gesture and intonation. Georgetown: Georgetown University.
McNeill, D. (1992). Hand and mind: what gestures reveal about thought. Chicago: University of Chicago.
McNeill, D. (2000). Language and gesture, Vol. 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
McNeill, D. (2012). How language began: gesture and speech in human evolution, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
McNeill, D. (2014) Gesture–speech unity: phylogenesis, ontogenesis and microgenesis. Language, Interaction and Acquisition 5(2), 137–84.
Moonsamy, S., Jordaan, H. & Greenop, K. (2009). Cognitive processing and narrative discourse production in children with ADHD. South African Journal of Psychology 39(3), 326–35.
Morris, D. (1994). Bodytalk: a world guide to gestures. London: Jonathan Cape.
Ninio, A. & Snow, C. E. (1996). Pragmatic development. Oxford: Westview Press.
Peterson, C. & McCabe, A. (1991). Linking children's connective use and narrative microstructure. In McCabe, A. & Peterson, C. (eds), Developing narrative structure. (pp. 2953). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Pretorius, L. & Bosch, S. (2009). Exploiting cross-linguistic similarities in Zulu and Xhosa computational morphology. In Proceedings of the First Workshop on Language Technologies for African Languages, 96103. Association for Computational Linguistics. Online: <http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1564526>.
Ramaila, Z. M. (2005). An investigation of the potential role that folklore can play in environmental education: a case study of Mphoko. Unpublished master's dissertation, University of the Western Cape.
Reig Alamillo, A., Colletta, J.-M. & Guidetti, M. (2013). Gesture and language in narratives and explanations: the effects of age and communicative activity on late multimodal discourse development. Journal of Child Language 40(3), 511–38.
Saville-Troike, M. (1982). The ethnography of communication: an introduction. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
Suzman, S. (1991). Language acquisition in Zulu. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of the Witwatersrand.
Yoshioka, K. (2008). Gesture and information structure in first and second language. Gesture 8(2), 236255.

A cross-linguistic study of the development of gesture and speech in Zulu and French oral narratives*

  • RAMONA KUNENE NICOLAS (a1), MICHÈLE GUIDETTI (a2) and JEAN-MARC COLLETTA (a3)

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed