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How Given and New Information Shape the Form of Conversational Hand Gestures
Unformatted Document Text:  2 How Given and New Information Shape the Form of Conversational Hand Gestures Abstract This is a qualitative study of how hand gestures take their particular forms. Participants performed actions such as playing with a whirlygig toy, then described this to someone who had not done it. In doing so, the speaker often made a series of gestures that were not only different from the original action but from each other. The specific gestural (symbolic) form of the gesture can be explained by its immediate communicative function, in this case, by what was given and what was new information in it at that moment. Parts of the action that had just been depicted but were still needed (i.e., given) became smaller, or “sloppier”, while the new feature being depicted was larger, clearer, or otherwise emphasized. Some earlier actions disappeared but had to be presupposed in order to understand the new information. These differences are analogous to the differences in given vs. new verbal information.

Authors: Gerwing, Jennifer.
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How Given and New Information Shape the Form of Conversational Hand Gestures
Abstract
This is a qualitative study of how hand gestures take their particular forms. Participants
performed actions such as playing with a whirlygig toy, then described this to someone who had
not done it. In doing so, the speaker often made a series of gestures that were not only different
from the original action but from each other. The specific gestural (symbolic) form of the gesture
can be explained by its immediate communicative function, in this case, by what was given and
what was new information in it at that moment. Parts of the action that had just been depicted but
were still needed (i.e., given) became smaller, or “sloppier”, while the new feature being depicted
was larger, clearer, or otherwise emphasized. Some earlier actions disappeared but had to be
presupposed in order to understand the new information. These differences are analogous to the
differences in given vs. new verbal information.


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