The mission of the Center is to bring together research in gesture, sign, and language. All known human cultures have a language, whether this language is spoken or signed. Of course, people can and do use the manual modality for communication in other ways. First, people who use spoken language often move their hands as they talk––they gesture. Second, deaf children born to hearing parents (who are not exposed to a sign language) create homesign systems to communicate with those around them. Third, those people who do use sign language also gesture. The relationship between language and gesture is rich and complex for all of these groups, and studying them together opens up new perspectives for our understanding of human cognition.
The goal of this center is to explore the interplay among gesture, sign, and language and in so doing, address some of the most basic questions about human language and development. The Center provides a home for the collaborations between members of the Departments of Psychology, Linguistics, and Comparative Human Development, as well as providing fertile ground for new collaborations.