Article published in:The gesture–sign interface in language acquisition / L’interface geste–signe dans l’acquisition du langage
Edited by Aliyah Morgenstern and Michèle Guidetti
[Language, Interaction and Acquisition 8:1] 2017
► pp. 69–88
Deaf and hearing children’s picture naming
Impact of age of acquisition and language modality on representational gesture
Stefanini, Bello, Caselli, Iverson, & Volterra (2009) reported that Italian 24–36 month old children use a high proportion of representational gestures to accompany their spoken responses when labelling pictures. The two studies reported here used the same naming task with (1) typically developing 24–46-month-old hearing children acquiring English and (2) 24–63-month-old deaf children of deaf and hearing parents acquiring British Sign Language (BSL) and spoken English. In Study 1 children scored within the range of correct spoken responses previously reported, but produced very few representational gestures. However, when they did gesture, they expressed the same action meanings as reported in previous research. The action bias was also observed in deaf children of hearing parents in Study 2, who labelled pictures with signs, spoken words and gestures. The deaf group with deaf parents used BSL almost exclusively with few additional gestures. The function of representational gestures in spoken and signed vocabulary development is considered in relation to differences between native and non-native sign language acquisition.
Keywords: gesture, sign language, language development, deaf
Published online: 16 October 2017
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