Presentation on theme: "Why iconic gestures aren’t very iconic"— Presentation transcript:
1 Why iconic gestures aren’t very iconic Elena Nicoladis
2 Gestures and thoughtGestures are often used in conjunction with speechHave complementary meaningTimed with speechThoughts are conveyed by gesture + speech (McNeill, 1996)
3 Why do people gesture? To help lexical retrieval Evidence: Tip-of-the-Tongue experiment with hands free or not freeTo help listeners understandEvidence: Gestures are produced at low frequency word combinationsNote that in conversations, both could be true
4 This talk How do different kinds of gestures relate to speech? Gesture developmentDo gestures compensate for missing or weak speech?Study of French-English bilingual children
5 Gesture development: prelinguistic gestures Conventional gesturesAppear around 9 mos.Symbolic gesturesAppear before words; disappear when words acquiredDeictic or pointing gesturesAppear around 9-12 mos.Usually with vocalizations
6 Prelinguistic gestures may all be conventional Symbolic gestures probably are learned from adultsDeictic gestures vary from culture to cultureGhanian mouth point
7 Gesture development: with-language gestures Iconic gestures: resemble referentEmerge around age of 2 yearsCorrelated with proficiency in French-English bilingual preschoolers between 2;0 and 3;6Beat gestures: keep timeRarely seen in the preschool years
8 Do gestures compensate for weak or absent speech? Deaf people (home signs)Bilinguals (one language usually weaker)ElderlyAphasics
9 Iconic gestures rarely compensate Deaf children with oral training use words rather than gesturesElderly people use fewer iconic gestures than younger peopleIntermediate bilinguals use fewer iconic gestures in their L2 than their L1Advanced bilinguals use equal rates of iconic gestures in their L1 and L2
10 Other gestures can compensate First home signs are mostly conventional gestures and deictic gesturesBroca’s aphasics can still use conventional and deictic gesturesBoth intermediate and advanced bilinguals use more deictics in their L2 than their L1
11 Different gestures, different relationship to speech Prelinguistic gestures can compensate for weak or absent speech“With-language” gestures do not compensate for weak or absent speechHome signs can be iconic but only after a communicative system has been established
12 This study How are different kinds of gestures related to speech? Are iconic gestures more closely linked to speech than other kinds of gestures?
13 This study: Research Questions Does the rate of gestures relate to proficiency?Do children create longer utterances with iconic gesturesDo children use “speechless” gestures to compensate for weak proficiency?Are iconic gestures used in cases of word-finding difficulty?
14 This study: Participants Eight French-English bilingual childrenBetween 3;6 and 4;11Average age: 4;34 French-dominant children and 4 English-dominant childrenVideotaped in two free-play sessions:French sessionEnglish session
15 Results: Gesture by dominance Conventional gestures
21 Results: Word finding difficulties Jason (3;7) “It goes like this.”Gesture meaning: path of movement from a vehicle pictured in a book1/22 iconic gesturesAidan (4;11): “So it can go like this and like this.”Gesture meaning: looping paths that the train tracks they are building should do6/9 iconic gestures
22 Summary of results #1 Conventional and deictic gestures Are not used more often with dominant languageDo not lead to longer sentencesAre used more often without speech when trying to communicate in weaker language
23 Summary of results #2 Iconic gestures Are used more often with dominant languageProduced with longer sentencesAre not used more often without speech when trying to communicate in weaker languageAre occasionally used in cases of word-finding difficulty, possibly increasing with age
24 Iconic gestures aren’t very iconic They can only be produced when someone knows a language wellThis holds true even for bilinguals who CAN produce iconics in their other languageAt least one function of iconics may be to “hold down” some concepts while thinking of others (hence, longer utterances possible)
25 Iconic gestures aren’t very iconic We also have some evidence that the interpretation of iconic gestures is highly dependent on what someone says
26 A troubling question…Why is the rate of iconic production different by language?Italians vs. English speakersSpanish vs. English speakersChinese speakers
27 Some possible answersEnglish speakers think less complex thoughts than Italian and Spanish speakersThe fact that iconic gestures are produced is due to cognitive development. The rate of cognitive gestures is due to cultural variables.Other ideas??