Chapter 21. Gesture and discourse

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Do speakers use different gestures when first introducing a referent compared to when referring back to the referent? Four adults narrated a story involving two men and several objects. We coded the speech and gestures produced, focusing on the gestures that accompanied nouns or pronouns used to introduce or refer back to referents. The main finding was that gestures with predominantly redundant information (same identity as the spoken referent) occurred more often when introducing a referent in speech, but that gestures with predominantly additional information (different entity than spoken referent, predicate of a referent) occurred more often when referring back in speech. These findings underscore the idea that speakers’ gestures can reflect the difference between new and given information in discourse.


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