Pragmatic gestures and prosody

Ferré, G. (2023). Pragmatic gestures and prosody. In W. Pouw, J. Trujillo, H. R. Bosker, L. Drijvers, M. Hoetjes, J. Holler, S. Kadava, L. Van Maastricht, E. Mamus, & A. Ozyurek (Eds.), Gesture and Speech in Interaction (GeSpIn) Conference. doi:10.17617/2.3527215.
The study presented here focuses on two pragmatic gestures:
the hand flip (Ferré, 2011), a gesture of the Palm Up Open
Hand/PUOH family (Müller, 2004) and the closed hand which
can be considered as the opposite kind of movement to the open-
ing of the hands present in the PUOH gesture. Whereas one of
the functions of the hand flip has been described as presenting
a new point in speech (Cienki, 2021), the closed hand gesture
has not yet been described in the literature to the best of our
knowledge. It can however be conceived of as having the oppo-
site function of announcing the end of a point in discourse. The
object of the present study is therefore to determine, with the
study of prosodic features, if the two gestures are found in the
same type of speech units and what their respective scope is.
Drawing from a corpus of three TED Talks in French the
prosodic characteristics of the speech that accompanies the two
gestures will be examined. The hypothesis developed in the
present paper is that their scope should be reflected in the
prosody of accompanying speech, especially pitch key, tone,
and relative pitch range. The prediction is that hand flips and
closing hand gestures are expected to be located at the periph-
ery of Intonation Phrases (IPs), Inter-Pausal Units (IPUs) or
more conversational Turn Constructional Units (TCUs), and are
likely to be co-occurrent with pauses in speech. But because of
the natural slope of intonation in speech, the speech that accom-
pany early gestures in Intonation Phrases should reveal different
features from the speech at the end of intonational units. Tones
should be different as well, considering the prosodic structure
of spoken French.
Publication type
Proceedings paper
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