Greener Journal of Educational Research

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Greener Journal of  Educational Research Vol. 4(2), pp. 041-051, April 2014

 ISSN: 2276-7789 

Research Paper

Manuscript Number: 111813974


The Pattern and Function of Vocalization and Gesture in Nigerian Mother-Infant Interaction


Esther N. Oluikpe


Senior Lecturer, Department of Arts Education, Faculty of Education, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.


Email: esther.oluikpe @ unn. edu. ng, ezoluikpe @ yahoo. com


The purpose of the study was to theorize on the ability of illiterate but experienced Igbo mothers to detect with accuracy infants’ social bids for appropriate care-giving. The study involved a participatory observation of two normal, full term infants, aged 0-3 months at different periods of their birth, by their mother-researcher. The social bids were food, sleep, comfort, and relief from pain. The period of observation for each infant was two months. The focus of observation was vocalization (distress and non-distress cry) and gestures (body movements and mouthing). The observations were recorded on daily basis in a journal for each period of observation. They were analyzed and compared to determine common features in the vocalizations, formal parameters of gestures, meaning of gestures, maternal response, and infants’ feedback. The findings revealed that vocalization served as automatic social arouser while the gestures encoded the social bids which the mother interpreted to provide appropriate care-giving. The study concluded that experienced but illiterate Igbo mothers relied on their interpretation of the formal parameters of the infants’ gestures to provide appropriate care-giving during the prelinguistic stage of the infant. Vocalization served as social arouser.
Keywords: Vocalization, gesture, infants, mothers, interaction.

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