LINGUIST List 25.4929

Fri Dec 05 2014

Diss: Language Acquisition, Phonology: Esteve-Gibert: 'The Integration of Prosody and Gesture in Early Intentional Communication'

Editor for this issue: Danuta Allen <>

Date: 05-Dec-2014
From: Núria Esteve-Gibert <>
Subject: The Integration of Prosody and Gesture in Early Intentional Communication
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Institution: Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Program: Cognitive Science and Language
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2014

Author: Núria Esteve-Gibert

Dissertation Title: The Integration of Prosody and Gesture in Early Intentional Communication

Dissertation URL:

Linguistic Field(s): Language Acquisition

Dissertation Director:
Pilar Prieto

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation comprises four experimental studies which investigate the way infants integrate prosody and gesture for intentional communicative purposes. The first study is a longitudinal analysis of how a group of infants produce gesture and speech combinations in natural interactions, with results that show that already at 12 and 15 months of age infants temporally align prosodic and gesture prominences. The second study uses a habituation/test procedure to test the infants’ early sensitivity to temporal gesture-prosodic integration, showing that 9-month-old infants are sensitive to the alignment between prosodic and gesture prominences. The third study analyzes the longitudinal productions of four infants at the pre-lexical stage and provides evidence that infants use prosodic cues such as pitch range and duration to convey specific intentions like requests, statements, responses, and expressions of satisfaction or discontent. Finally, the fourth study examines how infants responded at 12 months of age to different types of pointing-speech combinations and shows that infants use prosodic and gestural cues to comprehend communicative intentions behind an attention-directing act. Altogether, this dissertation shows that the temporal integration of gesture and speech occurs at the early stages of language and cognitive development, and that pragmatic uses of prosody and gesture develop before infants master the use of lexical cues. I further claim that infants’ integration of prosody and gesture at the temporal and pragmatic levels is a reflex of an early emergence of language pragmatics.

Page Updated: 05-Dec-2014