Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Adults and children develop gestures that mimic language

16.02.2004


The ability to develop a form of communication that becomes an actual language is apparently innate, new University of Chicago research on the use of gestures among deaf children and experiments with adults shows.



Psychologist Susan Goldin-Meadow’s work with adults and children also shows which features of language seem to come more easily, and are therefore resilient, such as using order to convey who does what to whom. Her research also shows which characteristics are more difficult to develop, particularly without linguistic input. She has found that youngsters inventing their own sign language do not form verb tenses, for instance.

Goldin-Meadow, the Irving B. Harris Professor in Psychology at the University of Chicago, will present her findings in a paper, "The Resilience of Language," at 9 a.m. Feb. 15 at the conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Seattle.


Her previous work has shown that deaf children of non-deaf adults develop a language-like system of gestures to communicate. To explore further how gestures become a language, Goldin-Meadow and her colleagues tested hearing adults. They found that adults told to use their hands rather than their mouths to communicate developed gestures and organized them into a syntax similar to that used by the deaf children.

For the experiment, the researchers showed the adults a videotape of objects moving in space, for example, a donut-like object moving from an ashtray. The adults were asked to describe the action first using gestures alone and later talking about what they saw.

When they used only gestures, the adults formulated their sentences in the same way: making gestures that represented the stationary object (ashtray), moving object (donut) and action (moving). The order is different from the typical order of an English sentence (the stationary object moves out of the ashtray). In order to determine if that organization reflects something more fundamental about how the mind works, the team then had the adults arrange pictures of the short narrative in two ways: once while talking to a researcher and again while working alone. People who talked about the movement of the donut-shaped object from ashtray to table frequently put the pictures in an order that reflected the spoken English. However, people who organized the pictures without telling someone what they were doing put them in the same order as those who had used gesture only in the earlier experiment: stationary object, moving object and movement.

"Finding the same non-English order in a non-communicative context suggests that the order is not driven solely by communication through gesture, but may be a more general property of human thought," she said. Goldin-Meadow and her colleagues have explored many ways in which deaf children of non-deaf parents develop a form of sign language before they are taught more conventional systems of sign language. Although their parents often gesture themselves when speaking to the children, those gestures, which form an integrated system with their speech, are not duplicated by the children. Instead, the children develop a system of communication in which they can make requests, describe present and non-present situations, and even tell short stories. The gestures are structured with systematic patterns at both word and sentence levels.

"Across the globe, deaf children who are not exposed to a usable conventional language will invent gestures to communicate," said Goldin-Meadow. "Indeed, all the structures that we have identified in the deaf children’s gesture systems can be found in natural language systems that have evolved over generations."

William Harms | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www-news.uchicago.edu/

More articles from Communications Media:

nachricht Tile Based DASH Streaming for Virtual Reality with HEVC from Fraunhofer HHI
03.01.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Nachrichtentechnik Heinrich-Hertz-Institut

nachricht Product placement: Only brands placed very prominently benefit from 3D technology
07.07.2016 | Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt

All articles from Communications Media >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A big nano boost for solar cells

18.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Glass's off-kilter harmonies

18.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Toward a 'smart' patch that automatically delivers insulin when needed

18.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>