Edited by Aliyah Morgenstern and Michèle Guidetti
[Language, Interaction and Acquisition 8:1] 2017
► pp. 13–41
Developmental evidence for continuity from action to gesture to sign/word
What is linguistic communication and what is it not? Even if we often convey meanings through visible bodily actions, these are rarely considered part of human language. However, co-verbal gestures have compositional structure and semantic significance, while highly iconic structures are essential in sign languages. This paper offers a review of major studies conducted in our lab on the continuity from actions to gestures to words/signs in development. After a brief introduction, we show how gestures may bridge the gap between actions and words and how this interrelationship extends beyond early childhood and across cultures. We stress the role of sign language and multimodal communication in the study of language as a form of action and present recent research on motoric aspects of human communication. Studying the visible actions of speakers and signers leads to a revision of the traditional dichotomy between linguistic and enacted, and to the development of a new approach to embodied language.
- 2.From actions to gestures to words: evidence on how early action-gestures scaffold word acquisition in infancy
- 3.Towards multimodality: developing a more nuanced understanding of the role of gesture production in toddlers and older children
- 4.From actions to gestures to signs: the importance of considering sign language acquisition in understanding embodied language
- 5.Moving ahead: general conclusion and further contributions to the current debate on embodying language
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