Chapter 22. Speakers’ use of ‘action’ and ‘entity’ gestures with definite and indefinite references

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Common ground is an essential prerequisite for coordination in social interaction, including language use. When referring back to a referent in discourse, this referent is &#8216;given information&#8217; and therefore in the interactants&#8217; common ground. When a referent is being referred to for the first time, a speaker introduces &#8216;new information&#8217;. The analyses reported here are on gestures that accompany such references when they include definite and indefinite grammatical determiners. The main finding from these analyses is that referents referred to by definite and indefinite articles were equally often accompanied by gesture, but speakers tended to accompany definite references with gestures focusing on action information and indefinite references with gestures focusing on entity information. The findings suggest that speakers use speech and gesture <i>together</i> to design utterances appropriate for speakers with whom they share common ground.


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