Journal of Child Language


Early vocabulary and gestures in Estonian children*


a1 University of Tartu, Centre of Behavioral and Health Sciences, Estonia

a2 University of Tartu, Centre of Behavioral and Health Sciences, Estonia, and National Institute for Health Development, Estonia


Parents of 592 children between the age of 0 ; 8 and 1 ; 4 completed the Estonian adaptation of the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventory (ECDI Infant Form). The relationships between comprehension and production of different categories of words and gestures were examined. According to the results of regression modelling the production of object gestures and gestural routines was positively correlated with the use of all the word categories. Comprehension of common nouns was positively correlated to the production of common nouns and predicates, whereas the comprehension of predicates was negatively correlated to the production of common nouns and social terms. The older the children were the more they produced words from each category. Girls were reported to produce more social terms. First-born children had an advantage over later-born children in the production of common nouns. Maternal educational level was associated with the production of common nouns and predicates.

(Received April 07 2010)

(Revised November 25 2010)

(Accepted May 24 2011)

(Online publication August 31 2011)


c1 Address for correspondence: Institute of Psychology, University of Tartu, Tiigi 78–336, 50410 Tartu, ESTONIA. tel: (372 7) 375906; fax: (372 7) 375900; e-mail:


[*] Research for this article was supported by the Estonian Ministry of Science and Education (grant SF0180025). The authors would like to thank the parents participating in the study. We also would like to thank Larry Fenson and the CDI Advisory Board for permission to adapt the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories to Estonian.