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Gestures and words during the transition to two-word speech*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 September 2008

Olga Capirci*
Affiliation:
Institute of Psychology CNR, Rome
Jana M. Iverson
Affiliation:
The University of Chicago
Elena Pizzuto
Affiliation:
Institute of Psychology CNR, Rome
Virginia Volterra
Affiliation:
Institute of Psychology CNR, Rome
*
Istituto di Psicologia CNR, Reparto di Neuropsicologia del Linguaggio e Sordità, Via Nomentana 56, 00161 Rome, Italy.

Abstract

This study explores the communicative use of the gestural and vocal modalities by normally developing Italian children during the transition from one- to two-word speech. We analysed the spontaneous production of 12 children at 1;4 and at 1;8, focusing on the use of two-element combinations of words and/or gestures. Results indicated that use of gesture and gesture-word combinations during the transition to two-word speech is a robust feature of communicative development across a relatively large number of children in a rich gestural culture, and that the number of gesture-word and two-word combinations increased significantly from 1;4 to 1;8. Number of gestures and gesture-word combinations produced at 1;4 was also predictive of total vocal production at 1;8. Findings are discussed in terms of the role of gesture as a transitional device en route to two-word speech.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1996

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Footnotes

[*]

Portions of this paper were presented at the 17th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development, 23–25 October 1992, at the Biennial Meetings of the Society for Research in Child Development, New Orleans, 25–28 March 1993, and at the 9th International Conference on Infant Studies, Paris, 2–5 June 1994. The authors would like to thank Emiddia Longobardi and Cristiana Patrizi for assistance with data collection, Anna Paola Ercolani for statistical advice, Paolo Desideri for assistance with statistical analyses and tables and Martha Alibali, Elizabeth Bates, John Bonvillian, Maria Cristina Caselli, Susan Goldin-Meadow, Adam Kendon, Marc Marschark, Leslie Rescorla, Donna Thal, Amanda Woodward, Robert Wozniak and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on earlier versions of the manuscript. The research was supported by a Rotary Foundation Scholarship and a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship to Iverson and by funding from the CNR Targeted Project ‘FATMA – Prevention and Disease Control Factors’.

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