Does ontogenetic ritualization explain early communicative gestures in human infants?
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.