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Conference Papers Year : 2011

The Emergence of Negation: from Gesture to Word


This study deals with the emergence of forms of negation and their semantic values in the attitude and language of a monolingual English-speaking girl. In the line of previous studies that have investigated the transition from gesture to word in longitudinal data (cf. Morgenstern et al, 2010), this research aims at identifying pre-verbal and co-verbal gestures specific to negation and questioning the continuity hypothesis between gestures and speech as this child acquires language. My corpus is composed of longitudinal recordings of an English girl, Ellie, born on March 6th, 2009. She has been filmed at home by her grand-mother once a month for an hour since she was ten months. The eleven videos I have examined so far introduce a compliant little girl who gestures a lot. To analyse the data I use both the CLAN programme and the ELAN programme, the latter being especially useful to analyse gestures related to negation. Ellie's first proto-negations (avoiding and refusing food) occur at 0;10 and at 1;02 she produces her first head-shaking NO (cf. Spitz, 1957). At 1;05, verbal negations emerge and are produced with co-verbal gestures of negations as Ellie expresses denial and rejection in monologues and dialogues. She also produces epistemic negation gestures without speech (such as I-DON'T-KNOW gesture), for which verbal counterparts have been found to appear later, around 2;01 (Choi, 1988). Our results therefore confirm that gestures of negation precede verbal productions and help construct the self representation of the child as being opposed to or different from the others. Choi, S. (1988), The semantic development of negation: A cross-linguistic study. Journal of Child Language 15, 517-532. Morgenstern, A., Caët, S., Collombel-Leroy, M., Limousin, F. & Blondel, M. (in press), From gesture to sign and from gesture to word: Pointing in deaf and hearing children. Gesture 10-2:3 (2010), John Benjamins Publishing Compagny, pp. 173-202. Spitz, R.A. (1957), No and Yes: on the genesis of human communication. New York: International Universities Press, Inc.


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hal-00752142 , version 1 (15-11-2012)


  • HAL Id : hal-00752142 , version 1


Pauline Beaupoil-Hourdel. The Emergence of Negation: from Gesture to Word. SNUGLS 2011, Aliyah Morgenstern and Yann Fuchs and Vincent Hugou and Stéphanie Caët and Camille Debras., Apr 2011, Paris, France. ⟨hal-00752142⟩
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