Symbolic “Gesture Names”

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  • In the late 1970s, researcher Linda Acredolo noticed her infant daughter engaging in a blowing action every time she saw a fish. She did this reliably for real fish, toy fish, and pictures of fish. Acredolo was confused about this behavior until she realized that, when putting her daughter to bed at night, she would blow on the fish mobile positioned above her crib to make the fish move. Her daughter had apparently associated the blowing activity with fish and had generalized the behavior to other fish, recruiting the action as an apparent form of symbolic reference. That is, she was using the behavior to represent and refer to an object category.

    This was not the first time that the significance of action-based symbolic communication in ...

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