Function and processing of gesture in the context of language
Function and processing of gesture in the context of language. In R. B. Church, M. W. Alibali, & S. D. Kelly (Eds.
), Why gesture? How the hands function in speaking, thinking and communicating
(pp. 39-58). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing. doi:10.1075/gs.7.03ozy.
Most research focuses function of gesture independent of its link to the speech it accompanies and the coexpressive functions it has together with speech. This chapter instead approaches gesture in relation to its communicative function in relation to speech, and demonstrates how it is shaped by the linguistic encoding of a speaker’s message. Drawing on crosslinguistic research with adults and children as well as bilinguals on iconic/pointing gesture production it shows that the specific language speakers use modulates the rate and the shape of the iconic gesture production of the same events. The findings challenge the claims aiming to understand gesture’s function for “thinking only” in adults and during development.