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Pointing Sets the Stage for Learning Language—and Creating Language


  • The research described in this commentary was supported by grants from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (R01 DC00491) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01 HD47450 and P01 HD40605).

concerning this article should be addressed to Susan Goldin-Meadow, Department of Psychology, University of Chicago, 5730 South Woodlawn Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637. Electronic mail may be sent to


Tomasello, Carpenter, and Liszkowski (2007) have argued that pointing gestures do much more than single out objects in the world. Pointing gestures function as part of a system of shared intentionality even at early stages of development. As such, pointing gestures form the platform on which linguistic communication rests, paving the way for later language learning. This commentary provides evidence that pointing gestures do establish a foundation for learning a language and, moreover, set the stage for creating a language.