Features of spontaneous pointing gestures in toddlers
This study investigated the production of spontaneous pointing gestures in 26 toddlers, who were observed during free play time at day nursery. Pointing gestures and their different features (e.g., handedness, vocalizations, form and function of gesture) were recorded for a total observation time of 100 hours. Results revealed that the vast majority of pointing gestures were right-handed and accompanied by vocalizations, emphasizing the tight interconnection between speech and gesture from an early stage of development. Whole-hand gestures were more frequently used in imperative contexts, whereas index extensions were more frequently produced in declarative ones. Moreover, the use of declarative gestures and index extensions were found to increase with age. Implications concerning the origins of imperative and declarative pointing are discussed.
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