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When speech stops, gesture stops : Evidence from crosslinguistic and developmental comparisons

Graziano, Maria LU and Gullberg, Marianne LU (2018) In Frontiers in Psychology 9.
Abstract
There is plenty of evidence that speech and gesture form a tightly integrated system, as reflected in parallelisms in language production, comprehension, and development (Kendon, 2004; McNeill, 1992). Yet, it is a common assumption that speakers use gestures to compensate for their expressive difficulties, a notion found in developmental studies of both first and second language acquisition, and in some theoretical proposals concerning the gesture-speech relationship. If gestures are compensatory, they should mainly occur in disfluent stretches of speech. However, the evidence is sparse and conflicting. This study tests the putative compensatory role of gestures by comparing the gestural behaviour in fluent vs. disfluent stretches of... (More)
There is plenty of evidence that speech and gesture form a tightly integrated system, as reflected in parallelisms in language production, comprehension, and development (Kendon, 2004; McNeill, 1992). Yet, it is a common assumption that speakers use gestures to compensate for their expressive difficulties, a notion found in developmental studies of both first and second language acquisition, and in some theoretical proposals concerning the gesture-speech relationship. If gestures are compensatory, they should mainly occur in disfluent stretches of speech. However, the evidence is sparse and conflicting. This study tests the putative compensatory role of gestures by comparing the gestural behaviour in fluent vs. disfluent stretches of narratives by competent speakers in two languages (Dutch and Italian), and by language learners (children and adult L2 learners). The results reveal that (1) in all groups speakers overwhelmingly produce gestures during fluent speech and only rarely during disfluencies. However, L2 learners are significantly more likely to gesture in disfluency than the other groups; (2) in all groups any gestures performed during disfluencies tend to be suspended; (3) in all groups the rare gestures completed in disfluencies have both referential and pragmatic functions. Overall, the data strongly suggest that when speech stops, so does gesture. The findings constitute an important challenge to both gesture and language acquisition theories assuming a mainly (lexical) compensatory role for (referential) gestures. Instead, the results provide strong support for the notion that speech and gestures form an integrated system. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
gesture, speech production, language development, second language acquision, crossmodal coordination, child language acquisition
in
Frontiers in Psychology
volume
9
pages
17 pages
publisher
Frontiers
external identifiers
  • scopus:85048119031
ISSN
1664-1078
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
12a02342-0a78-4f5b-8302-938c43f85cd6
alternative location
https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00879
date added to LUP
2017-12-31 23:12:18
date last changed
2018-07-10 11:37:30
@article{12a02342-0a78-4f5b-8302-938c43f85cd6,
  abstract     = {There is plenty of evidence that speech and gesture form a tightly integrated system, as reflected in parallelisms in language production, comprehension, and development (Kendon, 2004; McNeill, 1992). Yet, it is a common assumption that speakers use gestures to compensate for their expressive difficulties, a notion found in developmental studies of both first and second language acquisition, and in some theoretical proposals concerning the gesture-speech relationship. If gestures are compensatory, they should mainly occur in disfluent stretches of speech. However, the evidence is sparse and conflicting. This study tests the putative compensatory role of gestures by comparing the gestural behaviour in fluent vs. disfluent stretches of narratives by competent speakers in two languages (Dutch and Italian), and by language learners (children and adult L2 learners). The results reveal that (1) in all groups speakers overwhelmingly produce gestures during fluent speech and only rarely during disfluencies. However, L2 learners are significantly more likely to gesture in disfluency than the other groups; (2) in all groups any gestures performed during disfluencies tend to be suspended; (3) in all groups the rare gestures completed in disfluencies have both referential and pragmatic functions. Overall, the data strongly suggest that when speech stops, so does gesture. The findings constitute an important challenge to both gesture and language acquisition theories assuming a mainly (lexical) compensatory role for (referential) gestures. Instead, the results provide strong support for the notion that speech and gestures form an integrated system.},
  articleno    = {879},
  author       = {Graziano, Maria and Gullberg, Marianne},
  issn         = {1664-1078},
  keyword      = {gesture,speech production,language development,second language acquision,crossmodal coordination,child language acquisition},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {06},
  pages        = {17},
  publisher    = {Frontiers},
  series       = {Frontiers in Psychology},
  title        = {When speech stops, gesture stops : Evidence from crosslinguistic and developmental comparisons},
  volume       = {9},
  year         = {2018},
}