Tapping Toddlers' Evolving Semantic Representation via Gesture Purpose This study presents evidence that gesture is a means to understanding the semantic representations of toddlers. Method The data were part of a study of toddlers' word learning conducted by N. C. Capone and K. K. McGregor (2005) . The object function probe from that study was administered ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 2007
Tapping Toddlers' Evolving Semantic Representation via Gesture
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Nina C. Capone
    Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ
  • Contact author: Nina C. Capone, Department of Speech-Language Pathology, School of Graduate Medical Education, Seton Hall University, 400 South Orange Avenue, Alfieri Hall, Room 33, South Orange, NJ 07079. E-mail: caponeni@shu.edu.
Article Information
Development / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 2007
Tapping Toddlers' Evolving Semantic Representation via Gesture
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2007, Vol. 50, 732-745. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2007/051)
History: Received January 31, 2006 , Revised August 3, 2006 , Accepted August 22, 2006
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2007, Vol. 50, 732-745. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2007/051)
History: Received January 31, 2006; Revised August 3, 2006; Accepted August 22, 2006
Web of Science® Times Cited: 27

Purpose This study presents evidence that gesture is a means to understanding the semantic representations of toddlers.

Method The data were part of a study of toddlers' word learning conducted by N. C. Capone and K. K. McGregor (2005) . The object function probe from that study was administered after 1 exposure and after 3 exposures to objects. Here, toddlers' gestures were described and their gesture–speech combinations were analyzed as a function of instruction and time.

Results A large proportion of toddlers gestured. Gestures were iconic and deictic, but toddlers produced more iconic gestures than previously reported. Consistent with studies of older children, toddlers produced gesture–speech combinations that reflected their learning state.

Conclusion Gesture can be both a source of semantic knowledge and an expression of that knowledge. Gesture provides a window onto evolving semantic representations and, therefore, can be 1 method of assessing what a child knows at a time when oral language skills are limited and are, perhaps, an unreliable indicator of what the child knows. Embodied knowledge may underlie the use of gesture. Clinical implications are discussed.

Acknowledgments
I thank Karla McGregor and Susan Goldin-Meadow for their contributions to project development and data analysis and Caseyanne Higgins for careful reliability coding. Gratitude is also extended to Kristy Grohne-Riley and Li Sheng for comments on an earlier version of this article.
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