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Lecture | LUCL Colloquium - Fall 2014

LUCL Colloquium: Why Gestures Are Not (Only) A Compensatory Device

  • Marianne Gullberg (Lund University)
Friday 26 September 2014
LUCL Colloquium
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

Why gestures are not (only) a compensatory device - evidence from language learners


It is often (tacitly) assumed that gestures are essentially compensatory in nature and help speakers convey information they have difficulties expressing. This view is especially common in research focused on "less competent" language users such as a child and adult language learners, bilinguals, or atypical populations. These assumptions can also be found in theories about the relationship between speech and gesture. I will challenge this compensatory view of speech-gesture production, especially in language development. By examining disfluencies and bimodal information distribution in child and adult learner data, I show that gestures are co-ordinated with fluent speech, not with disfluencies; that children and adults generally express similar information bimodally; and that when gestures are recruited as problem-solvers, different problems have different gestural solutions. Based on these observations, I argue for the need of a more nuanced view of the speech-gesture relationship, especially in language development.

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