Communicative Gestures and First Words
In recent years developmental psycholinguistics have taken into consideration the period preceding the acquisition of the verbal language, stressing the fundamental role of gestures used by infants in the process of acquisition (Camaioni, Volterra, & Bates, 1976; Dore, 1974; Lock, 1978,1980). These studies, in particular the one by Bates, Benigni, Bretherton, Camaioni, and Volterra (1979), emphasized that, while the infant manifests from birth a series of both gestural (grimaces, smiles, reaching for objects) and vocal (different types of crying, vocalizations, babbling) behaviors which serve as communicative signals, one can only speak of really intentional communication towards 9 months of age. This intentional communication is initially expressed by gestures such as: ritualized REACHING (the infant reaches for an object, opening and closing the palm, looking alternately at the adult), GIVING objects (the infant gives an object towards the adult), SHOWING objects (the infant raises an object for the adult to see), and POINTING (the infant points the index finger towards an object or a person and looks alternately at the adult).
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