Importance of Symbols and Gestures

Signs ,Symblos and Gestures: ?A sign is something we directly encounter, yet at the same time it refers to something else. Thunder is a sign of rain. A punch in the nose is a sign of anger. An arrow is a sign of whatever it points toward. ?Symbols expand the notions of signs and signals. Symbols are characterized by rich meanings that are multiple, fluid, diverse, layered, complex, and frequently predicated on metaphorical associations that assert an analogy between things from different contexts that normally may not be connected.

Given that the referents of symbols tend to be general, abstract, and ambiguous, their personally or socially constructed significations may not be apparent except to those who make them. ?Gestures are present early in development, and are used to communicate before a child has the ability to vocalize. Once the child has the ability to speak, gestures are used to express thoughts that are not expressed vocally; eventually, gestures complement vocalized ideas. Importance :

The use of gestures ,symbols and signs paves the way for learning speech. Before a child can vocalize, they have the ability to understand language and communicate through deictic and iconic gestures. Early on, children use deictic gestures, which are seen around ten months old, and consist of pointing to or holding things up. Iconic gestures are used by children at eleven to twelve months old, and capture the features of their referents. Iconic gestures convey predicate information, like punching the air to refer to fighting.

According to Ozcaliskan & Goldin-Meadow (2004), at fourteen months old, children use a vast majority of gestures that are usually produced along with verbal communication. At eighteen months, half of an average child’s speech is accompanied by gestures. The ways in which gestures are used are an indication of the developmental or conceptual ability of children Symbolic gesturing yields positive rather than negative effects on learning to talk. The incompatibility hypothesis, a belief that has been dominant for decades, states that the different odalities of communication (gestures, manual signs, speech, etc) are in competition of one another, and therefore learning one modality will suppress the acquisition of the other modality. Because of this hypothesis, in the past parents were advised not to use manual signs, as it would be detrimental to the child’s acquisition of natural speech (Loncke, 2013). On the contrary to this incompatibility hypothesis, in the absence of language, encouraging the use of gestures will not delay the verbal ability of children, rather, the experience of gesturing has a facilitative effect on early syntactical development.

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Communication is multimodal, meaning there is more than one channel used for communication (gesture, speech, picture, etc), which strengthens the overall communicative interaction. For example, speaking a word and pointing to a picture reinforce the communicative meaning and intent of the speaker (Loncke, 2013). Gesturing facilitates and enriches the relationship between parent and child. Between nine and eighteen months, the child, lacking full vocal abilities, will want to communicate with the parent, who must determine what message the child is trying to convey.

It is during this time that gesturing becomes important. This is supported by the compatibility hypothesis, which condones the use of multimodal forms of communication, and claims that learning gestures will not hinder a child’s acquisition of normal speech and language. For example, a mother bathing her eighteen month old daughter might be unaware that the water is too hot, but the child could indicate this through a gesture, rather than try to formulate a time-consuming verbal explanation

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