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Cross-linguistic comparison of representations of motion in language and gesture

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In the linguistic-gestural representation of motion events, the past studies showed that manner and path in English are mentioned within one clause, and the two components can be represented together in one gesture. In Turkish and Japanese, they are expressed separately in two clauses, and two separate gestures — one for manner and one for path — are produced accordingly. The present study investigates the linguistic-gestural expression of motion in Mandarin Chinese discourse, and finds that Mandarin speakers predominantly use simple manner verbs to express manner and serial verbs and prepositional phrases to convey path within a clause. In gestural representation, speakers prefer to depict path information only within a clause, be it carrying new or given information. The cross-linguistic differences demonstrate language specificity in linguistic encodings and manual depictions of motion. Such variation in how speech and gesture are used can further suggest language specificity in the conceptualization of motion events.

Keywords: Mandarin Chinese discourse; cross-linguistic representation; gesture; information status; linguistic-gestural representation; motion

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2012-01-01

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