Communicative development can be better understood by examining the diversity of gestures and how various forms of gestures are interlinked in their developmental origins – their genealogy. To draw attention to the differences and interrelations among forms of gestures, we group gestures into three families based on their developmental origins: (1) action-based gestures that develop from infants’ spontaneous actions that others respond to; (2) conventional gestures; and (3) iconic gestures. Although these diverse gestures are acquired through somewhat different developmental pathways, we argue that they develop in the context of shared experiences within social routines. What differs is the relative role of the caregiver and child in initiating the routine. In viewing communicative development in this way, we show the importance of basing our investigations on an adequate conception of meaning in order to recognize the similarity in the underlying processes involved in early communicative development.

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