11. Verbal and gestural expression of motion in French and Czech

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The aim of this chapter is to contribute to the general discussion about conceptualisation of motion events in different languages and cultures (see also Engemann et al., HCP 36; Lewandowski, HCP 36; Filipović and Geva, this volume). This study examines how language specificities influence the way in which French and Czech native speakers talk, gesture, and think about the category of motion events. Its theoretical framework combines (1) Talmy’s verb-framed/satellite-framed language typology, (2) Whorf’s hypothesis of linguistic relativity, and (3) McNeill’s conception of gesture and speech. Analysis of verbal and gestural descriptions of motion reveals that, while there are considerable verbal differences, French and Czech gestures are far more similar than expected. These findings are discussed in terms of the role of gesture in the expression of speakers’ intentions.


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