“Use of gestures reflects language instinct in young children”

University of Warwick. “Use of gestures reflects language instinct in young children.” ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140605083453.htm (accessed July 2, 2014).

This first article discusses the employment of childhood language development theories. The article states that children “instinctively use a ‘language-like’ structure to communicate through gestures” (ScienceDaily: 2014). This statement applies to one of three main theoretical perspectives of language acquisition. This falls into the nature side of the nature vs nurture argument. Psychologists who believe that “human beings are innately endowed with biological linguistic processing capabilities…” (Shaffer, D. R., Kipp, K., Wood, E., & Willoughby, T., 2013:429); meaning that children not only have a language acquisition device, but that they also have the capacity to create-language. This is interesting and relates to this article because even gestures are a form of language that must be acquired or created.

Cartmill, E. A., Hunsicker, D., & Goldin-Meadow, S. (2014). Pointing and naming are not redundant: Children use gesture to modify nouns before they modify nouns in speech. Developmental Psychology, 50(6), 1660-1666. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1504147806?accountid=14391


Cartmill, E., Hunsicker, D., and Goldin-Meadow, S., agree that children use gesture to represent words and modify nouns. The article suggests that paying close attention to the visual gestures children make can allow for a linguistic interpretation; in turn this creates a physical reaction to the demand. Authors reported that they were able to identify particular correlations between gesture and speech.  Authors determined, through their research, that “children combine speech and gesture (rather than the ability to use a word and gesture together) that predicts the acquisition of new constructions in speech” (Özçalis¸kan & Goldin-Meadow, 2005 cited in Cartmill, E., Hunsicker, D., and Goldin-Meadow, S., 2014). This is supports the newspaper article from ScienceDaily entitled Use of gestures reflects language instinct in young children. Authors of that article also suggest that hand gestures are crucial to the development of language in childhood.


I also agree with both articles, research supports that non-verbal communication from newborn to young childhood develops patters in speech and develops language for later in life. Being a mother myself; I can honestly admit that without hand gestures or non-verbal communication I would be lost. My newborn cries for many different things yet it is her gestures that help me to clarify what she is actually ‘asking’ for or ‘in need’ of. For example; when she cries from hunger her mouth usually makes a sucking donut like shape; when she cries in her sleep and needs nothing but to express herself, she usually pushes the blankets off with her hands and makes fists, gesturing that she does not want to be woken but is in fact having a vivid dream.

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