19 April 2024

Séminaire de l’équipe S2S : Shreejata Gupta

Pre-speech gesture sequences precursors to co-speech gestures in adults?

Vendredi 19 avril 2024

Séminaire de l’équipe S2S

14h LPL, salle de conférences B011, Aix-en-Provence

Shreejata GUPTA (Diya)


Pre-speech gesture sequences precursors to co-speech gestures in adults?

Résumé :
Speech independent gestures in 12- to 15-months old infants include referential (deictic and iconic) and symbolic gestures, which predominantly have semantic functions conveying infants’ intentions of achieving social goals; they also include non-referential gestures which are primarily pragmatic in nature, coordinating social interactions (Gupta et al, submitted 2024). Our findings suggest that these pre-speech gesture categories and their functions share similarities with those found in adult co-speech gestures (Kendon 2004; McNeill 1992). Thus, we pose a relevant question in this context – do pre-speech gestures lay the developmental foundations of adult co-speech gestures? To address this question, we focus specifically on the non-referential gestures in infants and examine whether they could be comparable to the non-referential gestures used by adults.
Co-speech non-referential gestures in adults (beat gestures), defined as rhythmic arm/hand movements accompanying speech, often align with prosody and have pragmatic roles to help coordinate social interactions (McNeill 1992, Kendon 2004). We found that non-referential gestures in infants are also rhythmic in nature (e.g. arm jerk, arm shake, bounce, leg fling). The have a narrow semantic range (to express emotional states), yet they have a significantly more declarative functions than any other gesture category, which help to maintain and coordinate social exchanges. More interestingly, we also find that these gestures occur most often in sequences with vocalisations and/or other gestures.
Thus, as a next step to test whether the nature of overlap between the non-referential gestures and co-occurring vocalisations in infants is comparable to that found between beat gestures and speech in adults, we used automatic computational multimodal sequence processing methods (Habib-Dassetto et al, in prep) to analyse gesture sequences in infants. Specifically, we hypothesise that (1) the overlap between infant vocalisations and non-referential gestures occur significantly more than it does with referential and symbolic gestures, and (2) non-referential gestures are ubiquitously associated with different types of vocalisations; therefore, the semantic content is contributed by the vocalisations, while these gestures only play pragmatic roles of coordinating and maintaining interactions.
Findings from this study will eventually enable us to test whether pre-speech infant gestures indeed are the precursors to adult co-speech gestures and that the pragmatic functions of co-speech gestures, in fact, precede speech acquisition.

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19 April 2024, 14h0015h00
LPL, salle de conférences B011, 5 avenue Pasteur, Aix-en-Provence

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