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How Given and New Information Shape the Form of Conversational Hand Gestures
Unformatted Document Text:  10 the conversation using “ones” to refer to the toys. Participant B showed understanding by saying “yeah” and by then asking why A’s toy did not fly around. Her utterance “Why didn’t yours fly around?” contains given information (the identity of the toy, now referred to as “yours”, and her knowledge of A’s experience with it) and new information (B’s wish to know why A’s did not fly around). Whether information is given or new depends on whether or not the material is, at the time of the utterance, in the addressee’s consciousness (Chafe, 1974). In other words, the given information must have an antecedent in the listener’s memory (Haviland & Clark, 1974). The antecedents in the above example are the toys the participants played with, and their task. Participant B could assume that the identity of the toy and A’s experience with it would be fresh in A’s memory, therefore they could exist as given information in her utterance. Speakers must make these sorts of assumptions (what the addressee is conscious of) and transmit their own material accordingly (Chafe, 1974). The previous example shows how given and new information that the interlocutors bring into the dialogue manifest in the first few utterances interlocutors make. However, given information also accumulates through the course of a dialogue. Information already supplied by the previous linguistic context becomes given information, whereas new information has not been previously supplied (Crystal, 1991). This thematic structure of discourse helps addressees to identify incoming speech act and ascertain if there is anything in working memory to which they can attach old and new information (Kess, 1992). Speakers mark verbal information as being given or new using syntactic features. For example, they can pronominalize (Chafe, 1974; Kess, 1992), use markers like “a” for new information and “the” for given information (Haviland & Clark, 1974; Kess, 1992), or use

Authors: Gerwing, Jennifer.
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the conversation using “ones” to refer to the toys. Participant B showed understanding by saying
“yeah” and by then asking why A’s toy did not fly around. Her utterance “Why didn’t yours fly
around?” contains given information (the identity of the toy, now referred to as “yours”, and her
knowledge of A’s experience with it) and new information (B’s wish to know why A’s did not
fly around).
Whether information is given or new depends on whether or not the material is, at the
time of the utterance, in the addressee’s consciousness (Chafe, 1974). In other words, the given
information must have an antecedent in the listener’s memory (Haviland & Clark, 1974). The
antecedents in the above example are the toys the participants played with, and their task.
Participant B could assume that the identity of the toy and A’s experience with it would be fresh
in A’s memory, therefore they could exist as given information in her utterance. Speakers must
make these sorts of assumptions (what the addressee is conscious of) and transmit their own
material accordingly (Chafe, 1974).
The previous example shows how given and new information that the interlocutors bring
into the dialogue manifest in the first few utterances interlocutors make. However, given
information also accumulates through the course of a dialogue. Information already supplied by
the previous linguistic context becomes given information, whereas new information has not
been previously supplied (Crystal, 1991). This thematic structure of discourse helps addressees
to identify incoming speech act and ascertain if there is anything in working memory to which
they can attach old and new information (Kess, 1992).
Speakers mark verbal information as being given or new using syntactic features. For
example, they can pronominalize (Chafe, 1974; Kess, 1992), use markers like “a” for new
information and “the” for given information (Haviland & Clark, 1974; Kess, 1992), or use


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