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Academic Paper


Title: Motoric characteristics of representational gestures produced by young children in a naming task
Author: Paola Pettenati
Institution: Università degli Studi di Parma
Author: Silvia Stefanini
Institution: Università degli Studi di Parma
Author: Virginia Volterra
Institution: Istituto di Scienze e Tecnologie della Cognizione (ISTC)
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition; Psycholinguistics
Abstract: This study explores the form of representational gestures produced by forty-five hearing children (age range 2 ; 0–3 ; 1) asked to label pictures in words. Five pictures depicting objects and five pictures depicting actions which elicited more representational gestures were chosen for more detailed analysis. The range of gestures produced for each item varied from 3 to 27 for a total of 128 gestures. Gestures have been analyzed with the same parameters used to describe signs produced by deaf children: handshape, location and movement. Results show that gestures for a given picture exhibit similarities in many of the parameters across children. Some motor characteristics found in the production of hearing toddlers' gestures are similar to those described for early signs. Implications of this similarity between gestural and signed linguistic representations in young children are discussed.

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This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 37, Issue 4, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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