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How Given and New Information Shape the Form of Conversational Hand Gestures
Unformatted Document Text:  19 Through successive depictions, information was gradually accumulated and gathered into the given part of the depiction where it could support new information. If a participant had already depicted the action, aspects of that part of the explanation could be blurred or even deleted in the later depictions. Information from earlier gestures might be included in later gestures, either as a transformed physical presence (a smaller sized depiction) or merely a conceptual or presupposed one (one that was necessary to understand the later depictions). The distinction between physical and conceptual presence is important because it explains the following paradox: as gestures accumulated, they contained more and more information, yet they become more schematic. Later gestures were very simple and often not very precise. To understand them, participants had to have accumulated information from the previous gestural depictions. As participants accumulated given information, they did not need to use such precise gestures. Yet the gestures were packed full of information. For the ten dyads of interest, I noted where depictions of any aspect of the whirlygig occurred. As mentioned previously, these depictions could refer to physical descriptions of the toy, indications of where the toy flew, or actions performed with the toy. By followed the depictions through the short narratives, it was possible to make note of the new information included in each. As the gestures accumulated I also made note of the aspects of previous gestures that appeared in subsequent gestures. These aspects could be retained completely (as in a repetition of a previous gesture), transformed (changing in size or precision), retained only as spatial information (the location of a previous gesture informed the location of another), retained conceptually (information from a previous gesture was necessary for understanding the next) or eliminated all together. The following examples will serve to illustrate these ideas more clearly:

Authors: Gerwing, Jennifer.
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19
Through successive depictions, information was gradually accumulated and gathered into
the given part of the depiction where it could support new information. If a participant had
already depicted the action, aspects of that part of the explanation could be blurred or even
deleted in the later depictions. Information from earlier gestures might be included in later
gestures, either as a transformed physical presence (a smaller sized depiction) or merely a
conceptual or presupposed one (one that was necessary to understand the later depictions). The
distinction between physical and conceptual presence is important because it explains the
following paradox: as gestures accumulated, they contained more and more information, yet they
become more schematic. Later gestures were very simple and often not very precise. To
understand them, participants had to have accumulated information from the previous gestural
depictions. As participants accumulated given information, they did not need to use such precise
gestures. Yet the gestures were packed full of information.
For the ten dyads of interest, I noted where depictions of any aspect of the whirlygig
occurred. As mentioned previously, these depictions could refer to physical descriptions of the
toy, indications of where the toy flew, or actions performed with the toy. By followed the
depictions through the short narratives, it was possible to make note of the new information
included in each. As the gestures accumulated I also made note of the aspects of previous
gestures that appeared in subsequent gestures. These aspects could be retained completely (as in
a repetition of a previous gesture), transformed (changing in size or precision), retained only as
spatial information (the location of a previous gesture informed the location of another), retained
conceptually (information from a previous gesture was necessary for understanding the next) or
eliminated all together. The following examples will serve to illustrate these ideas more clearly:


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