Chapter 11. The organization of children’s pointing stroke endpoints

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The timing of index finger pointing gestures of three Swedish children (recorded longitudinally between 18 and 28 months) was analyzed. 63% of the pointing strokes ended in direct association with the child’s own spoken utterance. This is in line with standard descriptions of gesture timing. However, 35% of the pointing strokes were sustained for a longer time – until a response was received from an interlocutor. It is shown here that parents give significantly more elaborated responses when children’s pointing strokes are sustained and that the children work actively to achieve this result. The timing of such pointing gestures is thus a matter of interactive coordination between child and interlocutor. Finally, these findings are used as the basis for a discussion of different types of descriptions of gesture timing in the literature and how these may relate to each other.


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