Gesture and speech
The emergence and development of a strong and changing partnership
Abstract:The present paper focuses on early stages of development exploring the emergence of the gesture language system in infancy and its evolution toward the adult system. Old and recent studies carried on mainly in our Laboratory are described and discussed.
According to the perspective that emerged in the late 1970s the findings on the role of gesture in the acquisition and development of language did not raise any particular interest in a wider audience. In more recent years a new theoretical framework emerging from different disciplines and perspectives (evolutionary, neuro-physiological, linguistic) made this approach to the ontogeny of language extremely relevant. Findings on the tight link between actions, gestures, and spoken words in young children support some hypotheses put forward by these different perspectives and are in accordance with this new theoretical framework.