Gesture. In R. Pfau, M. Steinbach, & B. Woll (Eds.
), Sign language: An international handbook
(pp. 626-646). Berlin: Mouton.
Gestures are meaningful movements of the body, the hands, and the face during communication,
which accompany the production of both spoken and signed utterances. Recent
research has shown that gestures are an integral part of language and that they contribute
semantic, syntactic, and pragmatic information to the linguistic utterance. Furthermore,
they reveal internal representations of the language user during communication in ways
that might not be encoded in the verbal part of the utterance. Firstly, this chapter summarizes
research on the role of gesture in spoken languages. Subsequently, it gives an overview
of how gestural components might manifest themselves in sign languages, that is,
in a situation in which both gesture and sign are expressed by the same articulators.
Current studies are discussed that address the question of whether gestural components are the same or different in the two language modalities from a semiotic as well as from a cognitive and processing viewpoint. Understanding the role of gesture in both sign and
spoken language contributes to our knowledge of the human language faculty as a multimodal communication system.