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[Xmca-l] Re: Intonation and Gesture


Yes, it was the kids who wanted the gestures to go away (not you). But
to tell you the truth, I was rooting for them.

In Korea, you take off your shoes when you enter the house. The role
play has a child rushing off to school, and he asks his mother "Where
are my shoes?" The principals are speaking English (just as Natalie
Dessay is singing in Italian even though she is a French woman playing
an English lady in "Lucia di Lammermoor"), and some of the kids want
to pretend that when you speak English your personality morphs and you
suddenly forget basic facts of Korean life, e.g. that you have to take
your shoes off when you enter the house. So the long suffering mother
sighs and explains that they are just where they always are, i.e. in
the shoe cabinet by the threshold of the apartment.

As we watched the videos of them locking their hands behind their
backs to keep themselves from pointing to the door and struggling to
say "Your shoes are by the door", it seemed to me that what was really
at stake was not the disappearance of gesture but rather the graspture
of conscious, deliberate control of gesture, and that they did this in
classic Vygotskyan fashion, from the outside inwards, establishing
control of their own behavior through outside means. That is, locking
your hands behind your back to avoid gesturing is in itself a gesture,
but it is self-directed gesture, a kind of string around your finger
designed to remind you not to gesture.

And where does the gesture go? It doesn't go into intonation, because
the children do not intone so well when they are not using gesture.
One place it goes is into lexicogrammar, and this does allow us to say
something about written speech and how it differs from the spoken
idiom. Some languages allow the process of internalization to continue
well into the lexicogrammar, so for example Italian allows us to omit
all kinds of subject pronouns, and French permits tri-transitives,
neither of which is possible in English, but English allows an amazing
degree of grammatical metaphor (e.g. "growth point" instead of "a
point that grows").

Whether we say "Your shoes are in the cabinet by the threshold of the
apartment" or "They're right over there" depends in large part on
whether we can point with our hands or not. In this sense, the old
joke about the Italian with a watermelon is quite a propos. (The joke,
for those of you who have never heard it, is that an Italian carrying
a watermelon is accosted somewhere in the vicinity of Trafalgar Square
by an American tourist who is looking for the Nelson Column or the
National Gallery--a pained expression crosses the Italian face, the
lips begin to move but do not say anything, and finally the Italian
turns in inarticulate frustration, places the watermelon in a passing
baby carriage, and, with the free use of his hands, finds his voice
again: "Its-a right over there!")

McNeill is a Heideggerian Vygotskyan (see his discussion of his "H
Model" in "Gesture and Thought", p. 101). This means, necessarily,
that he rejects the concept of mediation, and with it the whole idea
that the means of mediation disappears with its
decontextualization/internalization. To me, that is what the "zone
prochaine de de/veloppment" means; as Seth Chaiklin says, it's not
about generalization, or about assistance, or even about awakening
some kind of potential in the child but rather about the
transformation of microgenesis into ontogenesis. That is what McNeill
wants to do with the Growth Point, and that's why McNeill explicitly
equates the Growth Point with the creation of inner speech
"predicates". But the creation of inner speech 'predicates' happens in
a specific "zone prochaine de de/veloppment" in Chapter Six of
"Thinking and Speech".

As I said, my objections to McNeill's objections are objections that I
myself have not fully worked out. I think McNeill is one of a group of
Vygotskyans who find themselves in the position of Isaac Newton after
he discovered, in the process of trying to do away with a universe of
"occult forces", that things really do act at a distance, else gravity
is an inexplicable mystery. These post-Newtonian Vygotskyans find that
the idea of mediation necessariliy imposes a kind of "theatre of the
mind", which looks highly Cartesian to them, and so they try to work
without it. You notice that McNeill does not use either the concept of
mediation or the ZPD in his work.

I don't have any trouble with a "theatre of the mind", so long as we
can accept that it is just another transitional form of mediation, an
imaginary construct like the imaginary friends and superheroes that
children make up, a kind of gypsy caravan that passes on or a nomad's
tent that melts into thin air in the process of development. The
problem I have is that the concept of mediation then becomes too
general and too abstract to be a concrete analytical category for any
practical problem that I work with, including this one.

David Kellogg
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

On 9 April 2014 20:46, "Rémi A. van Compernolle" <compernolle@gmail.com> wrote:
> Interesting and provocative comments, as always, David. A small clarification and then a question.
> I didn't suggest that gesture would disappear, only that gesture qualities change, transform, etc. over time. Maybe some disappear some times in some contexts (e.g. if not needed anymore, internalization, etc.) but it's pretty hard to image gesture going away altogether, which is McNeill's point I think (small beats, flicks of the wrist, head movements, etc. are virtually always present).
> And the question: I don't understand your critique of the growth point hypothesis in McNeill's work. I don't think he proposed it as a substitute for the ZPD, as you say, or as anything having to do with learning or development. My understanding is that it is how he defines the unit of analysis for speech-gesture activity (i.e. the point of synchronization of the stroke of a gesture and a verbal constituent), and the theory is that the growth point represents the psychological predicate of the speaker. The link to the ZPD concepts it seems is in work that extends McNeill's approach to education, learning, development, etc., where growth points may--but not always--provide evidence that some kind of developmental process is taking place, but of course, that has to be argued empirically, case by case. You can't, I think, simply say that since there's a growth point, someone is learning or developing, which is what I think you said somewhere in that message.
> Adam
> Rémi A. van Compernolle
> Assistant Professor of Second Language Acquisition & French and Francophone Studies
> Department of Modern Languages
> Carnegie Mellon University
> Baker Hall A60M
> 412-268-1122
> On Apr 8, 2014, at 7:11 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com> wrote:
>> Alex: Yes, you're absolutely right; we can't have melody without
>> rhythm too The conductor (Evilino Pido) and the singer (Natalie
>> Dessay) are very well coordinated. In SOME cases (e.g. when Natalie
>> looks up at Evelino through those great green eyes at the end of a
>> phrase), the coordination is quite obviously inter-personal, that is,
>> a matter of what Treverthenan calls primary intersubjectivity. But in
>> other cases (e.g. when Evilino left hand rises within a tenth of a
>> second of the moment that Natalie's right hand rises) they are both
>> orienting to the beat, and we have to call this secondary
>> intersubjectivity.
>> Adam raises the issue which I think explains this distinction
>> perfectly when he conducts the thought experiment of seeing how the
>> gestures change from rehearsal to performance. This isn't just a
>> thought experiment; it's exactly what my student Kim Donggyun did, and
>> I'll tell you about what he found in a moment. But for interpreting
>> this clip, I think that the distinction we want isn't rehearsal to
>> performance. What the clip shows is a RECORDING, not an operatic
>> performance on stage, and as Natalie explains, witih a recording you
>> concentrate entirely on getting the musical phrasing perfectly and you
>> don't bother to try to act. That means that Natalie is really just
>> conducting herself as part of the orchestra and not part of the cast,
>> and that means that there is more interpersonal coordination, more
>> primary intersubjectivity, than you would find in a stage performance,
>> where the singers must interact with each other and above all with the
>> script rather than with the orchestra and the conductor.(You can see
>> something of this if you compare the earliest filmed operatic
>> performances in the sixties and seventies with operatic performances
>> today, or if you compare contemporary Chinese opera with western
>> opera. In the sixties and seventies, and in Chinese opera, the singer
>> is a musician first and a character second; in current Western
>> performances it's the other way around.)
>> I find this exquisite--because it is so very Brechtian. In our day of
>> versimilitude and "method" acting, and in our cinema of "realistic"
>> three dimension animation and computer generated graphics, it is hard
>> to remember that one of the main purposes of art is to hold experience
>> at arms length and contemplate it as artifice. So I actually find
>> Natalie recording even more expressive--or perhaps I should say
>> contemplative--than the mimetic Natalie on stage.
>> Adam wonders if the gesture would disappear into the intonation as the
>> children in our experiment get more fluent. What I can tell you is
>> that the children WANTED that to happen, and that is why they locked
>> their hands behind their backs. The other thing they did was to look
>> at the floor during role plays rather than at each other or into air
>> (as they tried to remember the words they were supposed to say). This
>> kind of dispassionate recital was a kind of model of adult expertise,
>> whereas flailing with their hands or search the air (or the
>> whiteboard) for vocabulary was considered undignified. (We also found
>> some evidence that the children were RIGHT in this judgment--when we
>> translated the role plays into Korean and had them performed by
>> absolute beginners in the Korean language in Australia, we found that
>> there was MORE gesturing, even though the children were slightly
>> older. So gesturing--or at least non-volitional gesturing--really was
>> a symptom of helplessness.
>> The gesturing did not, however, disappear. As soon as we told the
>> children they couldn't lock their hands behind their back and we
>> docked them points for looking at the floor, we found them gesturing
>> again. Interestingly, though, we did find that as the children got
>> older and more confident (we compared third graders and fifth graders
>> in elementary school), the gestures changed qualitatively rather than
>> quantitatively--they became much better coordinated with the stresses
>> of what they said and they also better reflected the intonation. We
>> also used Praat software to see if taught gestures would improve
>> timing and intonation, and we found that, within certain limits, they
>> did.
>> Larry brings up the issue of "co-speech" and "embodied" communication
>> that is raised in McNeiil's boooks ("Hand and Mind", "Gesture and
>> Thought") and also the work of Goldin-Meadow. I have a number of
>> objections to this work which I still haven't quite sorted out in my
>> mind:
>> a) All of this work really rejects the idea of internalization, and
>> with it, mediation.
>> b) Gesture has to co-evolve with speech; it never disappears into it.
>> So we cannot have a theory of WRITTEN speech, and we cannot explain
>> the close link between intonation and gesture or between intonation
>> and information.
>> c) The "Growth Point" that McNeill proposes as a substitute for the
>> ZPD doesn't seem to me to distinguish between learning and
>> development.
>> I think, to tie this to previous threads, that "co-speech" and
>> "embodied" communication fits too easily into a theory of language
>> that is based on the INDIVIDUAL (specifically, the indivdual body)
>> rather than the social. I think, actually, the Gilbert/Magnus/Gibson
>> theory of direct perception of phonemes is a perfect illustration of
>> why this doesn't work. If the key to the meaning of segments were in
>> the body itself, the Tower of Babel would be nothing but a myth; we
>> would all speak the same language, and it would be English.
>> (Vygotsky, as usual, has a better idea--see HDHMF, p. 128! He says
>> that the ultimate basis for word meanings really is "literal", but it
>> is some kind of graphic-visual image which is then generalized and
>> abstracted. So, for example, "I stand on firm ground" would once mean
>> that your boots were dirty, and it still gives us a tiny glance at
>> dirty boots today, before opening out into the wider and even more
>> cultural vista of metaphor. But while the image we have in our heads
>> feels visual and co-extensive with the body, it is culturally
>> generated, as the very word "literal" implies!)
>> David Kellogg
>> Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
>> On 9 April 2014 07:05, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:
>>> Martin last year referenced Elena's work on language AS gesture.
>>> Here is here abstract describing her doctoral thesis.
>>> She has now moved to Spain and continuing her studies on gesture WITH A
>>> TEAM OF SCHOLARS exploring this theme
>>> Presented to the Department of Philosophy and the Graduate School of the
>>> University of Oregon in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the
>>> degree of
>>> Doctor of Philosophy
>>> December 2011
>>> ii
>>> Student: Elena Clare Cuffari
>>> Title: Co-Speech Gesture in Communication and Cognition
>>> This dissertation has been accepted and approved in partial fulfillment of
>>> the requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy degree in the Department of
>>> Philosophy by:
>>> Mark Johnson Chairperson Ted Toadvine Member Naomi Zack Member
>>> Eric Pederson Outside Member
>>> and
>>> Kimberly Andrews Espy Vice President for Research & Innovation/Dean of the
>>> Graduate School
>>> Original approval signatures are on file with the University of Oregon
>>> Graduate School.
>>> Degree awarded December 2011
>>> iii
>>> (c) 2011 Elena Clare Cuffari
>>> iv
>>> Elena Clare Cuffari
>>> Doctor of Philosophy
>>> Department of Philosophy
>>> December 2011
>>> Title: Co-Speech Gesture in Communication and Cognition
>>> This dissertation stages a reciprocal critique between traditional and
>>> marginal
>>> philosophical approaches to language on the one hand and interdisciplinary
>>> studies of speech-accompanying hand gestures on the other. Gesturing with
>>> the hands while speaking is a ubiquitous, cross-cultural human practice.
>>> Yet this practice is complex, varied, conventional, nonconventional, and
>>> above all under-theorized. In light of the theoretical and empirical
>>> treatments of language and gesture that I engage in, I argue that the hand
>>> gestures that spontaneously accompany speech are a part of language; more
>>> specifically, they are enactments of linguistic meaning. They are
>>> simultaneously (acts of) cognition and communication. Human communication
>>> and cognition are what they are in part because of this practice of
>>> gesturing. This argument has profound implications for philosophy, for
>>> gesture studies, and for interdisciplinary work to come.
>>> As further, strong proof of the pervasively embodied way that humans make
>>> meaning in language, reflection on gestural phenomena calls for a complete
>>> re-orientation in traditional analytic philosophy of language. Yet
>>> philosophical awareness of intersubjectivity and normativity as conditions
>>> of meaning achievement is well-deployed in elaborating and refining the
>>> minimal theoretical apparatus of present-day gesture studies. Triangulating
>>> between the most social, communicative philosophies of meaning
>>> v
>>> and the most nuanced, reflective treatments of co-speech hand gesture, I
>>> articulate a new construal of language as embodied, world-embedded,
>>> intersubjectively normative, dynamic, multi-modal enacting of appropriative
>>> disclosure. Spontaneous co-speech gestures, while being indeed spontaneous,
>>> are nonetheless informed in various ways by conventions that they
>>> appropriate and deploy. Through this appropriation and deployment speakers
>>> enact, rather than represent, meaning, and they do so in various linguistic
>>> modalities. Seen thusly, gestures provide philosophers with a unique new
>>> perspective on the paradoxical determined-yet-free nature of all human
>>> meaning.
>>> vi
>>> NAME OF AUTHOR: Elena Clare Cuffari
>>> University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
>>> Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA
>>> Oxford University, Oxford, England, UK
>>> Doctor of Philosophy, Philosophy, 2011, University of Oregon
>>> On Tue, Apr 8, 2014 at 9:14 AM, Ed Wall <ewall@umich.edu> wrote:
>>>> There is a video with Elena Bodorva (I think titled Tools of the Mind)
>>>> that shows a child refining (with instruction his pointing as a means to
>>>> competently perform ordinal arithmetic. There is (or perhaps should be) a
>>>> lot of gesturing in early mathematics.
>>>> Ed
>>>> On Apr 8, 2014, at  6:24 AM, Rémi A. van Compernolle wrote:
>>>>> David, Alex:
>>>>> Nice clip and commentaries. I wonder, though, what the singer's gestures
>>>> would have looked like as she was first learning the piece, and how their
>>>> qualities might have changed as she practiced. This is obviously of
>>>> interest to Vygotskians (genetic method, right?), and it has been the
>>>> object of some inquiry in education (e.g., Goldin-Meadow's work) as well as
>>>> in second language learning (including Alex's work).
>>>>> I think this might be something for your students to explore in their
>>>> investigations of elementary children learning to perform dialogues, David,
>>>> i.e. not just focusing on how much or how little gestures are used and
>>>> their relation with prosody but how they might develop, from initial
>>>> learning through to some kind of "competent" performance (whatever that
>>>> might mean). Also, could the kids be taught to gesture as a means of
>>>> mediating dialogue performance?
>>>>> Adam
>>>>> Rémi A. van Compernolle
>>>>> Assistant Professor of Second Language Acquisition & French and
>>>> Francophone Studies
>>>>> Department of Modern Languages
>>>>> Carnegie Mellon University
>>>>> Baker Hall A60M
>>>>> 412-268-1122
>>>>> On Apr 7, 2014, at 6:23 PM, Alex Rosborough <alex_rosborough@byu.edu>
>>>> wrote:
>>>>>> David,
>>>>>> Thank you for sharing this and past posts. I'd like to preface this with
>>>>>> a, "long time listener, first time caller" type of statement... as I was
>>>>>> only recently (re)added to the list after a multiyear recess.
>>>>>> I didn't take a deep look at the video but with slow down motion, I
>>>> think
>>>>>> your graduate student will see that there are a variety of gestures that
>>>>>> occur "at the same time" in sync with the conductor (as well as with her
>>>>>> rhythmic needs) - analogue style, right? So in many cases she IS hitting
>>>>>> rhythmic beats for HER notes... Look at the final or most important
>>>>>> "strokes" as David McNeill has termed them. She goes high for intonation
>>>>>> but then fingers or hand will often hit the most important point
>>>> (rhythmic
>>>>>> point) of the phrase (while arm is extended). This is often coupled
>>>> with a
>>>>>> "beat" stroke too. Sometimes, she does coordinate with the conductor but
>>>>>> we can't see the final lower stroke because of the limitations of the
>>>>>> camera... Unfortunately, the camera person does not seem too intent in
>>>>>> capturing the entire corporeal manifestation of the singing. What I'm
>>>>>> quite certain about is that during those down hand beat motions, she and
>>>>>> the conductor would be coordinated at their stop within fractions of a
>>>>>> second... We wouldn't be able to tell where they differed unless we
>>>> break
>>>>>> it down past 1/10 - 1/40 of a second but other data analysis has shown
>>>>>> that they would have looked very coordinated, especially in those
>>>> downward
>>>>>> strokes.
>>>>>> So interestingly, it possible that she may be presenting purpose and
>>>>>> communication for multiple reasons using multiple modalities in an
>>>>>> embodied and prosodic way (intertwined); including melodic and rhythmic
>>>>>> expressions as well as the public/private message ensemble - nothing new
>>>>>> for Vygotsky people :) So her "conflicts" are purposeful as well in
>>>>>> meeting her needs and are interesting to study - as you noted. I agree
>>>>>> with you and your grad. Student's observations of the el. ed. children.
>>>>>> Just some brainstorming - thanks for sharing.
>>>>>> Alex Rosborough
>>>>>> Brigham Young University
>>>>>> On 4/7/14 3:29 PM, "David Kellogg" <dkellogg60@gmail.com> wrote:
>>>>>>> One of my graduate students has been studying the way in which
>>>>>>> children use their hands when they speak English.
>>>>>>> We started with the observation that fourth and fifth graders will
>>>>>>> gesture copiously when they speak, but fifth and sixth graders, when
>>>>>>> you ask them to perform a dialogue in front of the class, will come
>>>>>>> out and lock their hands behind their backs, apparently to prevent
>>>>>>> themselves from gesticulating. Sure enough, their delivery is far more
>>>>>>> flat in intonation. When we ask them to unlock their hands, there is a
>>>>>>> notable improvement in intonation.
>>>>>>> This morning I was looking at Natalie Dessaye rehearsing the mad scene
>>>>>>> from "Lucia de Lammermoor". She gesticulates a LOT. But you can see
>>>>>>> that her gesticulations are not at all mad--when her voice has to go
>>>>>>> high, she puts her hand way over her head. When she has to go low, she
>>>>>>> places her hand low.
>>>>>>> Her "conducting" actually conflicts with that of the conductor,
>>>>>>> because of course it's melodic and not rhythmic. But it's effective;
>>>>>>> it produces that exquisite sense of "bloom" in her high notes. It's
>>>>>>> not exactly what my students are doing, but it's close!
>>>>>>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlVKw3_VXv4
>>>>>>> David Kellogg
>>>>>>> Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
>>>>>>> .