Volume 20, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1568-1475
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9773
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This paper presents a multimodal and form-based approach to language development grounded in situated practices and focuses on the longitudinal analysis of a composite gesture, the shrug, in two datasets of mother-child interactions in French and British English. The shrug in its full-fledged form can combine a palm-up, lifted shoulders, a head tilt, raised eyebrows and a mouth shrug (Kendon, 2004Streeck, 2009). All formal components and functions of the two children’s shrugs between the ages of 1 and 4;2 were coded within the multimodal ongoing discourse. Multiple correspondence analyses were combined with detailed qualitative analyses. Despite differences in the two children, interesting similarities in the development were observed over three periods: (1) absence is mainly expressed with palm-ups; (2) both children start using head tilts and shoulder lifts to express epistemicity and interpersonal positioning; (3) head tilts increase, and each body part is more clearly associated with one function.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): cross-linguistic; language development; recurrent gesture; shrug
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