This study investigated the role of gesture in communication development. Gestural categories, based on communicative function, were identified from longitudinal videotapes of one mother-child pair. The results of the study indicated that gestures can be reliably delineated. In addition, they served a number of communicative functions: 1) attention directing; 2) referent specifying; 3) requesting information or action; 4) supporting the verbal message and 5) answering yes/no questions. Although the pair's activity influenced the gestural category utilized, a developmental pattern emerged. As the child's linguistic sophistication increased, the mother's use of gestures decreased and the child's increased. The results are discussed with respect to the available literature.
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