Children’s use of gesture and action with static and dynamic verbs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The present study investigates the use of gestures by 18-, 24- and 30-month-old Swedish children, as well as their practical actions in coordination with verbs. Previous research on connections between children’s verbs and gestures has mainly focused only on iconic gestures and action verbs. We expand the research foci in two ways: we look both at gestures and at practical actions, examining how the two are coordinated with static verbs (e.g. sleep) and dynamic verbs (e.g. fall). Thanks to these additional distinctions, we have found that iconic gestures and iconic actions (the latter in particular) most commonly occurred with dynamic verbs. Static verbs were most commonly accompanied by deictic actions and deictic gestures (the latter in particular). At 30 months, deictic bodily expressions, including both gestures and actions, increased, whereas iconic expressions decreased. We suggest that this may reflect a transition to less redundant ways of using bodily expressions at 30 months, where bodily movement increasingly takes on the role of specifying verb arguments rather than expressing the semantics of the verb itself.


External organisations
  • Linköping University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics


  • Action, Development, Gesture, Language, Verbs
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-39
Number of pages18
JournalLIA Language, Interaction and Acquisition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jan 1
Publication categoryResearch