Developmental evidence for continuity from action to gesture to sign/word

What is linguistic communication and what is it not? Even if we often convey meanings through visible bodily actions, these are rarely considered part of human language. However, co-verbal gestures have compositional structure and semantic significance, while highly iconic structures are essential in sign languages. This paper offers a review of major studies conducted in our lab on the continuity from actions to gestures to words/signs in development. After a brief introduction, we show how gestures may bridge the gap between actions and words and how this interrelationship extends beyond early childhood and across cultures. We stress the role of sign language and multimodal communication in the study of language as a form of action and present recent research on motoric aspects of human communication. Studying the visible actions of speakers and signers leads to a revision of the traditional dichotomy between linguistic and enacted, and to the development of a new approach to embodied language.

Publication type: 
Author or Creator: 
Volterra, Virginia
Capirci, Olga
Caselli, Maria Cristina
Rinaldi, Pasquale
Sparaci, Laura
Benjamins, Philadelphia , Paesi Bassi
LIA (Amsterdam. Print) 8 (2017): 13–41. doi:10.1075/lia.8.1.02vol
info:cnr-pdr/source/autori:Volterra, Virginia; Capirci, Olga; Caselli, Maria Cristina; Rinaldi, Pasquale; Sparaci, Laura/titolo:Developmental evidence for continuity from action to gesture to sign/word/doi:10.1075/lia.8.1.02vol/rivista:LIA (Amsterdam. Pri
Resource Identifier:
ISTC Author: 
Olga Capirci's picture
Real name: 
Laura Sparaci's picture
Real name: 
Pasquale Rinaldi's picture
Real name: