In order to do so, the researchers filmed four babies, born into Catalan-speaking families, while they played with their parents at home, from when the children were aged 11 to when they reached 19 months old.
"These recordings were used to investigate when children started to combine gesture and speech in the same way as adults and if when they combine the two modes, the patterns of temporary coordination between gesture and speech are appropriate," Gibert continued.
In total, more than 4,500 communicative acts produced by the babies across the analysed months, through 24 hours of recordings, were obtained, which have been studied from the point of view of the gestures and of the acoustic properties of the vocalisations produced by the children.
"Special importance has been given to the analysis of the temporary coordination between speech and the act of pointing, because this gesture is crucial in the linguistic and cognitive development of language since it represents the first communicative gesture that babies are capable of understanding and producing," the expert pointed out.
Moreover, it is noted that the correct development of the coordination is closely linked with the future linguistic abilities of the child at a more advanced stage.
Combination of gesture and speech
During the babbling stage babies still produce many gestures without combining them with vocalisations. However, from the beginning of the period in which they start to produce their first words (four words during half an hour of recording), babies produce the majority of hand gestures in combination with vocalisations, the same as adults.
Furthermore, on analysing the combinations of gesture and vocalisation that the babies produce at this early age we see that most of the gestures that they combine with vocalisations are deictic gestures (pointing and reaching) with a declarative commu
|Contact: SINC Agency|
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology