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How Given and New Information Shape the Form of Conversational Hand Gestures
Unformatted Document Text:  7 following is an illustration of different words a speaker chose to refer to the same geometric figure over a series of several statements (from Clark & Wilkes-Gibbes, 1986): 1. Okay, the- number 7 looks like, sort of like an angel flying away or something. It’s got two arms. 2. Okay, the seventh one, um, looks like someone, looks like the angel flying away, or that’s what I said last time. 3. Fourth one is the, uh, flying one. 4. Fifth one is the one that looks like an angel. 5. Um, the second one is the angel one. 6. Sixth one’s the angel. In each phrase the speaker is referring to the same object. However, the way the speaker named the object changed. In the same way, when an individual uses a gesture to represent something, that gesture’s form will change as a function of the gesture’s function at that moment, in that context. The following is an example from our pilot data. The speaker is describing one of her tasks, which had been to make a whirlygig fly up into the air by placing the vertical part of the toy between her palms, rubbing one palm away from her body, and releasing the toy. “My last one was a, a little 1 … 2 … flying thing. [Yeah?] 3 And you had to hold your hand, stationary and 4 then, with this 5 hand, push it, 6 away and you 7 have to do it away cause otherwise it will spin this way and smack you in the face. Each underlined portion indicates the occurrence of a gesture. Numbered underlined portions show gestures that were depictions of the action that the speaker had performed earlier.

Authors: Gerwing, Jennifer.
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background image
7
following is an illustration of different words a speaker chose to refer to the same geometric
figure over a series of several statements (from Clark & Wilkes-Gibbes, 1986):
1. Okay, the- number 7 looks like, sort of like an angel flying away or something. It’s
got two arms.
2. Okay, the seventh one, um, looks like someone, looks like the angel flying away, or
that’s what I said last time.
3. Fourth one is the, uh, flying one.
4. Fifth one is the one that looks like an angel.
5. Um, the second one is the angel one.
6. Sixth one’s the angel.
In each phrase the speaker is referring to the same object. However, the way the speaker named
the object changed.
In the same way, when an individual uses a gesture to represent something, that gesture’s
form will change as a function of the gesture’s function at that moment, in that context. The
following is an example from our pilot data. The speaker is describing one of her tasks, which
had been to make a whirlygig fly up into the air by placing the vertical part of the toy between
her palms, rubbing one palm away from her body, and releasing the toy.
“My last one was a, a little
1
2
… flying thing. [Yeah?]
3
And you had to hold your hand,
stationary and
4
then, with this
5
hand, push it,
6
away and you
7
have to do it away cause
otherwise it will spin this way and smack you in the face.
Each underlined portion indicates the occurrence of a gesture. Numbered underlined portions
show gestures that were depictions of the action that the speaker had performed earlier.


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