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Gesture and the communicative intention of the speaker

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This paper aims to determine whether iconic tracing gestures produced while speaking constitute part of the speaker’s communicative intention. We used a picture description task in which speakers must communicate the spatial and color information of each picture to an interlocutor. By establishing the necessary minimal content of an intended message, we determined whether speech produced with concurrent gestures is less explicit than speech without gestures. We argue that a gesture must be communicatively intended if it expresses necessary information that was nevertheless omitted from speech. We found that speakers who produced iconic gestures representing spatial relations omitted more required spatial information from their descriptions than speakers who did not gesture. These results provide evidence that speakers intend these gestures to communicate. The results have implications for the cognitive architectures that underlie the production of gesture and speech.

Keywords: gesture; interaction; speech production

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2004-01-01

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