Carly Seibel

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Olson, Janet

Degree Name

B.S. (Bachelor of Science)

Legacy Department

School of Allied Health and Communicative Disorders


Mothers' responses to infants' gestures are proposed as a mechanism for vocabulary acquisition. It is known that at 13 months mothers give more object labels to pointing than object extensions at a time when infants are learning object labels. However, it is not known how mothers respond to infants' gestures at 17 months when their vocabularies are expanding to include a greater variety of word types. Therefore, the current study examined mothers' responses to three types of infant gestures: points, open-hand reaches, and object extensions at 17 months to describe maternal provision of object labels, action labels, internal state labels and nonlabels. Mother-infant interactions were observed in three communicative contexts designed to elicit proto-declarative, ambiguous, and proto-imperative communicative bids. It was found that infant pointing dominated in the proto-declarative context and object extensions were most prevalent in the proto-imperative context. More points than reaches were seen in the ambiguous context. Mothers provided mostly object labels after points and action labels after object extensions. Internal state labels occurred at similar rates across gesture types. Findings could begin to explain why infants' gestures are related to their vocabulary sizes. Infant gestures elicit verbal responses from mothers that mirror infants' communicative intents.


21 pages




Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type