image of The development of speech and gesture in Sesotho narratives
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Studies show that speech and gesture develop together with age, and the nature of gestures changes with increasing cognitive and discursive abilities. While there are common developmental trends, cultural differences may also impact development. We examined gesture development in narratives of Sesotho speaking children aged 5 to 6 years ( = 12), 9 to 10 years ( = 12) and adults ( = 12), who watched a wordless cartoon and narrated the story back to an interlocutor. Our results show that narrative ability develops with age. Speech and gesture become more complex. Representational and pragmatic gestures increase, but the proportion of these gesture types changes. Gestures become semiotically more complex and integrated with spoken discourse. Narrative development in Sesotho speakers shows similar developmental trends to those found in other studies. However, cultural factors influence some aspects with Sesotho speakers exhibiting similar narrative patterns in spoken and gestural behaviour to speakers of isiZulu, a closely related language and cultural group.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keywords: narratives ; speech ; Sesotho ; development ; gesture
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