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A multimodal approach to children's first negative constructions

Abstract : Previous research on the acquisition of negation in longitudinal data of adult-child interaction showed that the first negative constructions take over from early motions of rejection and avoidance (Pea, 1980). Thus, before using gestures or words children negate with actions. Yet, tracing the transitions from action to gesture and from gesture to verbal production is a complex task. To map these transitions among the semantic and pragmatic functions of negation and across modalities, we analyse all the actions, gestures, vocalisations and verbal productions of two French-speaking and two English-speaking monolingual children filmed one hour a month between the ages of 10 months and four years, along with those of their adult interlocutors. We developed a specific multimodal coding system relying on previous typologies of negation (e.g. Antinucci & Volterra, 1979; Pea 1980; Choi, 1988). We combined the use of Excel, CLAN and ELAN with video data aligned with transcriptions to analyse the functions of different forms of negation according to discourse context. Results show that the four children use multiple modalities throughout the data for main functions of negation, but with great individual differences. Some of them go from actions to symbolic gestures first produced alone and then combined with words before using complex verbal productions. The other children very quickly use verbal productions and do not rely on symbolic gestures at first. During their fourth year, the children gradually master multimodal means of expressing the subtleties of negation and the visual-gestural modality receives new emphasis in all the children's data with the use of co-verbal gestures. This study illustrates that in order to understand how children acquire negation we need to analyse the interfaces between different linguistic levels and different modalities. References Antinucci, F. & Volterra, V., 1979, "Negation in child language: A pragmatic study", in. E. Ochs & B. Schieffelin (eds.), Developmental pragmatics. New York: Academic Press. Choi, S., 1988, "The semantic development of negation: A cross-linguistic study", in Journal of Child Language 15, pp. 517-532. Pea, R. D., 1980, "The development of negation in early child language", In D. R. Olson (ed.), The social foundations of language and thought, New York: Norton. Spitz, R. A., 1957, No and Yes: On the Genesis of Human Communication. New York: International Universities Press, Inc. New York.
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Contributor : Pauline Beaupoil-Hourdel Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - 12:04:43 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, October 27, 2021 - 2:20:26 PM


  • HAL Id : hal-00847751, version 1


Pauline Beaupoil-Hourdel, Dominique Boutet, Stéphanie Caët, Aliyah Morgenstern. A multimodal approach to children's first negative constructions. workshop on Negation and polarity: Interfaces and cognition - 19th International Congress of Linguists, Pierre Larrivée & Chungmin Lee, Jul 2013, Genève, Switzerland. ⟨hal-00847751⟩



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