Gesture–speech combinations and early verbal abilities
New longitudinal data during the second year of age
This study provides new longitudinal evidence on two major types of gesture–speech combination that play different roles in children’s early language. We analysed the spontaneous production of 10 Italian children observed monthly from 10–12 to 23–25 months of age. We evaluated the extent to which the developmental trends observed in children’s early gesture–word and word–word productions can predict subsequent verbal abilities. The results indicate that “complementary” and “supplementary” gesture–speech combinations predict subsequent language development in a different manner: While the onset of “supplementary” combinations predicts the onset of two-word combinations, the use of “complementary” combinations at 12 and 18 months predicts the vocabulary and the ability to produce more words utterances at 2 years of age. Moreover, the results suggest that both “complementary” and “supplementary” crossmodal combinations are good predictive indexes of early verbal skills during the second year of age.
Keywords: pointing, deictic gestures, supplementary and complementary combinations, early verbal skills, prevention
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