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Academic Paper

Title: Infants' gestures influence mothers' provision of object, action and internal state labels
Author: Janet Olson
Institution: Northern Illinois University
Author: Elise Frank Masur
Institution: Northern Illinois University
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition
Abstract: Twenty-four infants at 1 ; 1 and their mothers were videotaped for 18 minutes while playing. Infants' pointing, reaching and object-extending gestures were coded in three communicative intent contexts: proto-declarative, or commenting; proto-imperative, or requesting; and ambiguous. Mothers' responses to infants' gestures were coded as object labels, action labels, internal state labels and non-labeling utterances. Infants most often pointed in the proto-declarative and used object extensions in the proto-imperative context. Infants produced pointing and reaching equivalently in the ambiguous context. Mothers' responses included object labels more often in response to points than object extensions. In contrast, mothers provided action labels most often in response to object extensions. Mothers produced large proportions of internal state labels, although the type varied by gesture. Results suggest mothers' labels following infants' gestures may serve as a mechanism for vocabulary acquisition and internal state understanding.


This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 38, Issue 5, which you can READ on Cambridge's site .

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