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How Given and New Information Shape the Form of Conversational Hand Gestures
Unformatted Document Text:  24 now, except as a spatial reference, physically eliminated from the action gesture. The new information was the nature of the action the participant performed on the toy. The next gesture, A4, built on the previous gesture by showing a necessary detail for playing with the toy correctly. During this gesture, the speaker maintained the left hand’s position from the beginning of the last gesture. She then slapped the palm of her left hand with her right and then moved her left hand (still palm up) slightly clockwise. The slap and the repositioning of the left hand indicated that it was the left palm that should be held steady. The slap pushed the new information included in the gesture (that the left hand should be held still) into the foreground. The full action depicted in A3 was necessary background information for understanding A4. It appeared only as the maintained position of the left hand at the beginning of the gesture. The gesture was cumulative in that it built on the meaning of the previous gesture: in order to play with the toy, one would have to push one palm across the other, which should be held steady. Gesture A5, which was not accompanied by any words, was a combination of the meaning of A3 and A4. It was the same action as A3 (one palm rubbing against the other) but slightly different in that the speaker held her left hand a bit more rigid than she had in A3. The only new information in this gesture was to combine the concept of gesture A3 with A4. Gesture A6 presented another addition to the required action. In it the speaker repeated the action from A3 and A5 and then added a “letting go” component at the end. One crucial but subtle difference between A3, A5, and A6 (all depictions of the full action required for the toy) was that as they progressed, the speaker was not as careful with various aspects of the gesture. For instance, in A3, her left and right fingers were almost parallel with each other (as they would have to be in her original action). In the next two gestures they did not line up quite as well, the

Authors: Gerwing, Jennifer.
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24
now, except as a spatial reference, physically eliminated from the action gesture. The new
information was the nature of the action the participant performed on the toy.
The next gesture, A4, built on the previous gesture by showing a necessary detail for
playing with the toy correctly. During this gesture, the speaker maintained the left hand’s
position from the beginning of the last gesture. She then slapped the palm of her left hand with
her right and then moved her left hand (still palm up) slightly clockwise. The slap and the
repositioning of the left hand indicated that it was the left palm that should be held steady. The
slap pushed the new information included in the gesture (that the left hand should be held still)
into the foreground. The full action depicted in A3 was necessary background information for
understanding A4. It appeared only as the maintained position of the left hand at the beginning of
the gesture. The gesture was cumulative in that it built on the meaning of the previous gesture: in
order to play with the toy, one would have to push one palm across the other, which should be
held steady.
Gesture A5, which was not accompanied by any words, was a combination of the
meaning of A3 and A4. It was the same action as A3 (one palm rubbing against the other) but
slightly different in that the speaker held her left hand a bit more rigid than she had in A3. The
only new information in this gesture was to combine the concept of gesture A3 with A4.
Gesture A6 presented another addition to the required action. In it the speaker repeated
the action from A3 and A5 and then added a “letting go” component at the end. One crucial but
subtle difference between A3, A5, and A6 (all depictions of the full action required for the toy)
was that as they progressed, the speaker was not as careful with various aspects of the gesture.
For instance, in A3, her left and right fingers were almost parallel with each other (as they would
have to be in her original action). In the next two gestures they did not line up quite as well, the


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