Chapter 14. Learning to use gesture in narratives

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This study analyses the way in which children develop their competence in the formal and semantic aspects of gesture. The analysis is focused upon the use of representational gestures in a narrative context. A group of 30 Italian children from 4 to 10 years was videotaped while telling a video cartoon to an adult. Gestures were coded according to the parameters used in Sign Languages analysis and analysed in terms of the acquisition of their properties, the accuracy of their execution and correctness in content representation.It was investigated also the development of the symbolic competence in relation both to the use of some of these parameters and to the representational strategies adopted.Results indicate a developmental trend in all the phenomena investigated and point out some formal similarities between gesture and Sign Languages.


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