A Child’s Multimodal Negations from 1 to 4: The Interplay Between Modalities

  • Pauline Beaupoil-HourdelEmail author
  • Aliyah Morgenstern
  • Dominique Boutet
Part of the Language, Cognition, and Mind book series (LCAM, volume 1)


Previous research on first language acquisition has highlighted the relation between actions, gestures and speech to express negation. As discussed by Watson (1925) and Clark (1978), children’s first negative constructions seem to take over from early gestures of rejection and avoidance. This study explores the status and evolution of actions, gestures and words expressing negation. Our detailed multimodal analyses are conducted on the longitudinal data of an English monolingual girl interacting with her mother recorded monthly at home for one hour between 10 months and 4 years old. We categorised all the child’s actions, gestures and words used in isolation or in combination according to their form and function. We distinguished five periods between 10 months and 4 years old. (1) Mostly actions are used at first; (2) more conventional gestures are used alone; (3) gestures are combined with one or two words; (4) the child’s speech becomes complex and she uses fewer gestures; (5) she reintroduces gestures but uses them as co-speech gestures along with longer, more complex negative spoken utterances. Her multimodal negative communication follows a specific pathway that goes from embodied negation to symbolic negation. After four, the use of gestures becomes fully integrated into multimodal complex productions with a rich diversification of functions and forms.


Child language acquisition Multimodality Corpus-driven analyses Negation Gesture Negative constructions 



This research has been supported by Russian Science Foundation grant #14-48-00067


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pauline Beaupoil-Hourdel
    • 1
    Email author
  • Aliyah Morgenstern
    • 1
  • Dominique Boutet
    • 2
  1. 1. Institut du Monde Anglophone, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3ParisFrance
  2. 2.UMR 7023 SFL CNRSUniversité Paris 8Saint-DenisFrance

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