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2003 - International Communication Association Pages: 29 pages || Words: 8247 words || 
1. Gerwing, Jennifer. "How Given and New Information Shape the Form of Conversational Hand Gestures" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Marriott Hotel, San Diego, CA, May 27, 2003 Online <.PDF>. 2019-11-22 <>
Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
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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