Does ontogenetic ritualization explain early communicative gestures in human infants?

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This chapter evaluates predictions that the origins of at least some gestures of human infants are shaped through ontogenetic ritualization (Clark 1978; Lock 1978; Tomasello 2008). To do so, we examine the development of five gesture types in four children between the ages of 6.5 and 11.5 months. This analysis supports a comparison between those gestures thought to be ritualized (<i>pick-me-up, graspindex</i>), with those that are socially learned (<i>wave, clap, clasp-hands</i>). Although some limited evidence for ritualization is found, developmental similarity amongst the five gesture types is strong. Through comparisons of gesture ontogeny between human and non-human primates, we explore the possible reasons for this result.


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