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How Given and New Information Shape the Form of Conversational Hand Gestures
Unformatted Document Text:  21 imperceptible. However, it did its communicative job by providing an appropriate background to the concept of “catching”. Retained only as spatial information: Gestures often disappeared in later depictions, but the later depictions used the same relevant and essential location: “where you 17 went like this. 18 And it had a little propeller thingy...” Gesture 17 was a portrayal of the whirlygig launching action that the participant performed in the gesture space directly in front of her body. In gesture 18, she used the index finger of one hand to trace a large horizontal circle over the top of where she had placed her first gesture. Although the elements of gesture 17 were not physically present anymore, they lingered on as a spatial reference to the location of the propellers. Retained conceptually: Often information from a previous gesture was no longer present physically or spatially. However, it was still essential to the meaning of a later gesture: “ 19 propeller you spin. 20 And then... 21 yeah, it hit me.” In gesture 19, the participant rubbed his palms together a few times. In gesture 20 he performed the prototypical whirlygig launching action. The rub was left over from the previous gesture, and his hands were not as parallel as before, nor were his fingers as straight. Gesture 20 was a transformed version of gesture 19. In gesture 21, the participant used one thumb to point towards his face. Gesture 20 was completely eliminated physically, but conceptual information from that gesture was essential to the addressee’s understanding of gesture 21. The speaker had to have performed the action in order for the toy to fly into his face. Eliminated altogether: Sometimes a gesture disappeared both physically and conceptually:

Authors: Gerwing, Jennifer.
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21
imperceptible. However, it did its communicative job by providing an appropriate
background to the concept of “catching”.
Retained only as spatial information: Gestures often disappeared in later depictions, but the later
depictions used the same relevant and essential location:
“where you
17
went like this.
18
And it had a little propeller thingy...”
Gesture 17 was a portrayal of the whirlygig launching action that the participant
performed in the gesture space directly in front of her body. In gesture 18, she used the
index finger of one hand to trace a large horizontal circle over the top of where she had
placed her first gesture. Although the elements of gesture 17 were not physically present
anymore, they lingered on as a spatial reference to the location of the propellers.
Retained conceptually: Often information from a previous gesture was no longer present
physically or spatially. However, it was still essential to the meaning of a later gesture:
19
propeller you spin.
20
And then...
21
yeah, it hit me.”
In gesture 19, the participant rubbed his palms together a few times. In gesture 20 he
performed the prototypical whirlygig launching action. The rub was left over from the
previous gesture, and his hands were not as parallel as before, nor were his fingers as
straight. Gesture 20 was a transformed version of gesture 19. In gesture 21, the
participant used one thumb to point towards his face. Gesture 20 was completely
eliminated physically, but conceptual information from that gesture was essential to the
addressee’s understanding of gesture 21. The speaker had to have performed the action in
order for the toy to fly into his face.
Eliminated altogether: Sometimes a gesture disappeared both physically and conceptually:


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