Re: [xmca] Book review - Gesture and the Dynamic Dimension of Language

From: Ana Christina <aiddings who-is-at>
Date: Fri May 09 2008 - 16:35:07 PDT

Thank you so much for sending this information through the listserv,
The field of gesture studies is indeed a fascinating one.

Here is another book on the subject (with a focus on second language
acquisition) that may be of interest to this group. A portion of the
volume is especially dedicated to the application of sociocultural
theory to the studies of gesture.

Gesture: Second Language Acquisition and Classroom Research
Steven G. McCafferty and Gale Stam, eds.
Routledge: London

As a whole, this book provides ample demonstration of the vital
connection between language and gesture, and why it is critical to
take into account the full spectrum of communicative phenomena as
part of research on second language acquisition (SLA). Collectively,
the authors and editors believe that readers unfamiliar with L2
gesture studies will find a powerful new lens with which to view many
aspects of language in use, language learning, and language teaching.
Of particular interest to MCA readers will be Setion II, Gesture and
Making Meaning in the L2, which consists of three studies that all
take an explicitly Vygotskian view of the role of gesture in SLA.
Chapter 3 by Steven G. McCafferty examines an L2 speaker’s discussion
of ideal marriage. He argues that the learner’s metaphoric gestures
served a primary role in the conceptualization and communication of
meaning. Elizabeth Platt and Frank B. Brooks in Chapter 4 discuss how
L2 learners’ use of gestures, gaze, nonverbal movements, and physical
contact with the task materials helped the participants achieve self-
regulation in performing a simulation task in their L2. In Chapter 5,
Eduardo Negueruela and James P. Lantolf also investigate the self-
regulatory and communicative functions of gestures. Their focus is on
how deictic and iconic gestures contribute to the construction of
meaning in the L2.

Table of Contents:
I Introduction to Gesture and Its L2 Applications
1. Gesture Studies and Second Language Acquisition: A Review
Gale Stam and Steven G. McCafferty
2. Nonverbal Communication, Gesture, and Second Language
Classrooms: A Review
Carla Chamberlin Quinlisk
II Gesture and Making Meaning in the L2
3. Material Foundations for Second Language Acquisition: Gesture,
Metaphor, and Internalization
Steven G. McCafferty
4. Embodiment as Self-Regulation in L2 Task Performance
Elizabeth Platt and Frank B. Brooks
5. The Dialectics of Gesture in the Construction of Meaning in
Second Language Oral Narratives
Eduardo Negueruela and James P. Lantolf
III Gesture and Communicative Performance in the L2
6. Gesturally-Enhanced Repeats in the Repair Turn: Communication
Strategy or Cognitive Language-Learning Tool?
David Olsher
7. Does Gesture Aid Discourse Comprehension in the L2?
Tsuyoshi Kida
8. Language Learner and Native Speaker Perceptions of Japanese
Refusal Gestures Portrayed in Video
Nicholas O. Jungheim
IV Gesture and Linguistic Perormance in the L2
9. A Helping Hand? Gestures, L2 Learners, and Grammar
Marianne Gullberg
10. Linguistic and Gestural Introduction of Ground Reference in L1
and L2 Narrative
Keiko Yoshioka
11. What Gestures Reveal About Second Language Acquisition
Gale Stam
V Gesture and the L2 Classroom
12. ‘Because of Her Gesture, It’s Very Easy to Understand’ –
Learners’ Perceptions of Teachers’ Gestures in the Foreign Language
Daniela Sime
13. Gesture and the Negoitation of Meaning in a Second Language
Martine Faraco and Tsuyoshi Kida
14. Expository Discourse in a Second Language Classroom: How
Learners Use Gesture
Alexis Tabensky

On May 7, 2008, at 6:15 PM, Phil Chappell wrote:

> May be of interest to some here.
> Phil
> EDITORS: Duncan, Susan D.; Cassell, Justine; Levy, Elena T.
> TITLE: Gesture and the Dynamic Dimension of Language
> PUBLISHER: John Benjamins Publishing Company
> YEAR: 2007
> Pentti Haddington, English Philology, Faculty of Humanities,
> University of Oulu,
> Finland
> Quite recently, there has been a sharp increase in the amount of
> research on the
> complex relationship between gesture and language. Such fields as
> gesture
> studies, interaction analysis and conversation analysis have
> contributed to our
> understanding of this relationship in natural discourse. This new
> book edited by
> Susan D. Duncan, Justine Cassell and Elena T. Levy provides an
> important and
> versatile contribution to this fascinating research area. It is
> also the first
> volume published in the new Gesture Studies series published by
> Benjamins. The
> book is a festschrift honoring the research of David McNeill, whose
> work has
> helped scholars around the world better understand the relationship
> between
> gesture, language, cognition and interaction. As the editors note
> in the
> introduction, these studies reflect McNeill's view of language as a
> dynamic
> phenomenon with emergent structure, and his idea that gesture is
> part of
> language and not an adjunct to it (4).
> The book is composed of 21 articles. After the introductory
> section, the book is
> divided into three sections: 1) Language and Cognition, 2)
> Environmental Context
> and Sociality and 3) Atypical Minds and Bodies.
> The book starts with the editors' brief introduction (pp. 3-11,
> ''Introduction:
> The Dynamic Dimension of Language'') to the background of McNeill's
> theoretical
> thinking and to some of his main theoretical notions.
> The next article by Adam Kendon, ''On the Origins of Modern Gesture
> Studies'' (pp.
> 13-28), gives a detailed view of the historical development of
> gesture studies
> from the Renaissance to the present. He connects the development of
> gesture
> studies both to various historical events and to the historical
> development of
> linguistics and anthropology, especially since the late 19th
> century. He
> discusses the reasons why gesture studies has recently gained so
> much prominence
> as a research field and why it has the status it now has.
> Kendon's article is important and should be read by anyone who is
> planning to
> teach a course on or study gesture. The article provides a view to
> various
> historical approaches to the study of gestures and, moreover, to
> the historical
> origins of research on the relationship between gesture and
> language. Kendon's
> discussion of the historical development of gesture studies vis-à-vis
> linguistics supports the overall theme of the book. Moreover, it
> makes one aware
> that teaching and researching the history of linguistics could
> benefit greatly
> from considering the history of gesture studies (and vice versa).
> Indeed,
> further research on the influence that linguistics and gesture
> studies have had
> on each other could provide new and fresh vantage points to the
> historical
> understanding of both.
> The first larger section contains nine articles, which primarily
> focus on the
> relationship between language and gesture from a cognitive or
> ''intrapersonal''
> vantage point. The first paper by Susan Goldin-Meadow, ''Gesture
> with Speech and
> Without It'' (pp. 31-49), considers gesture from two perspectives:
> First, it
> asks, when does gesture assume the full responsibility for
> communication? And
> second, when is gesture used together with speech? Goldin-Meadow's
> article
> provides an interesting insight into the relationship between
> gesture and
> language structure in interaction. Her data are particularly
> interesting: she
> has studied deaf children who have not been exposed to any
> language, but have
> developed their own gestural system for communication (they use so-
> called
> 'homesigns'). Such a system is of course very different from the
> gestural system
> that is used together with speech. Nevertheless, Goldin-Meadow is
> able to show
> that deaf children who ''do not have'' a native language are, on
> the one hand,
> capable communicators and, on the other hand, the structure of the
> homesign sign
> language they use has properties that are strikingly similar with
> the syntax,
> word order and pragmatics of spoken language.
> Without going into great detail, her very interesting paper
> provides food for
> thought in terms of understanding the origins of language, argument
> structure
> (cf. Du Bois 2003), word order and social actions/activities.
> Nini Hoiting and Dan I. Slobin's ''From Gestures to Signs in the
> Acquisition of
> Sign Language'' (pp. 51-65) considers sign language acquisition and
> the
> development of the use of gestures among signers. They also compare
> sign
> language acquisition with spoken language acquisition. Their data
> were recorded
> in the Netherlands and in them they have looked at 15-36-month old
> deaf
> children. Their main question is: when does an iconic gesture
> become a symbol in
> the acquisition of sign language? They suggest that there might be
> different
> timetables and patterns as regards the acquisition of linguistic
> structures.
> They also address an interesting cognitive aspect of sign language
> acquisition:
> compared to hearing children, do deaf children have a different
> route to
> learning signs, since they sometimes seem to accidentally use an
> appropriate
> sign? Hearing children do not stumble across an appropriate
> phonological form by
> accident.
> All in all, the article raises some interesting questions regarding
> the
> cognitive development and acquisition of linguistic phenomena
> between the deaf
> and the hearing (how does it happen, when does it happen, and what
> happens?).
> Similarly with Kendon's article, Hoiting and Slobin deal with a
> fundamental
> question for linguists: what is language?
> In their paper ''How does Spoken Language Shape Iconic
> Gestures'' (pp. 67-74)
> Sotaro Kita and Asli Özyürek focus on the role of gesture as a
> component of
> thinking and speaking. They also at how the gestures we use reflect
> the dynamic
> relationship between imagery and language in our heads. The authors
> discuss
> three hypotheses, of which one is their own, The Interface
> Hypothesis. They
> examine how a language's lexical and syntactic structure influences
> the
> speakers' use of iconic gestures. They focus on the construal of
> particular
> motion events, and their findings - which are based on cross-
> linguistic data -
> suggest that syntactic and gestural packaging of information are
> cognitively
> parallel processes.
> What makes Kita's and Özyürek's research particularly interesting
> from a
> linguistic perspective, is that it draws on and makes connections
> with Cognitive
> Grammar and Construction Grammar.
> By focusing on retellings of an episode of Sylvester the Cat and
> Tweety Bird,
> Nobuhiro Furuyama and Kazuki Sekine (''Forgetful or Strategic? The
> Mystery of the
> Systematic Avoidance of Reference in the Cartoon Story Narrative'',
> pp. 75-81)
> argue that in the retellings of the cartoon, speakers tend to avoid
> telling a
> particular piece of information (by addressing it in talk or
> gesture); namely
> Sylvester's direction of motion in the punch-line of one of the
> episodes.
> According to the authors, Sylvester's motion in the punch-line
> disrupts an
> overall motion pattern in the cartoon. The authors argue that
> describing
> direction per se is not something that is avoided, but that a piece of
> information can be avoided in order to maintain narrative or
> discourse cohesion.
> This is what the authors argue happens in the studied retellings as
> well:
> narrating Sylvester's divergent movement would disrupt the
> cohesiveness of the
> telling.
> In ''Metagesture: An Analysis of Theoretical Discourse about
> Multimodal Language''
> (pp. 83-89) Fay Parrill takes a metadiscursive view to a gesture
> that is
> frequently used by McNeill himself: a gesture in which two hands
> form an almost
> closed cup. This gesture metaphorically encloses a virtual object
> that is being
> talked about. Parrill draws on several examples in which McNeill
> uses this
> gesture. She argues that the gesture is used in similar discourse
> environments
> and that it can, together with talk, express information that forms
> a conceptual
> unit (i.e. a growth point). This argument is in line with McNeill's
> growth point
> theory of the dialectic between ''the imagistic and linguistic
> aspects of the
> language system'' (p. 86). Parrill concludes that the cupped
> gesture is an
> example of a 'speaker-specific gesture' that 1) is generated on the
> basis of
> imagery (i.e. it is not conventionalized) and 2) is routinized.
> Evelyn McClave in an interesting paper ''Potential Cognitive
> Universals: Evidence
> from Head Movements in Turkana'' (pp. 91-98) looks at three head
> movements that
> recur in the discourse of speakers of genetically different
> languages. In her
> own prior work and with her colleagues she has investigated head
> movements among
> speakers of Arabic, Bulgarian, Korean and African-American
> Vernacular English.
> In the paper published in this volume she has focused on recordings
> made of
> Turkana people (northwestern Kenya) to see if similar head
> movements in similar
> discursive contexts can be found in their talk. McClave admits that
> certain head
> movements are naturally culture specific. However, in her data, she
> has found
> three head movement types that occur across cultural and linguistic
> boundaries:
> head movements that occur together with lists, head movements that
> accomplish
> pointing and head movements that function as backchannel requests.
> In ''Blending in Deception: Tracing Output Back to Its
> Source'' (pp. 99-108), Amy
> Franklin looks at gesture-speech mismatches. According to Franklin
> (p. 99)
> gesture-speech mismatches occur when people have several things in
> mind that
> they want to express. Franklin looks at experimental situations in
> which
> participants have watched a cartoon and are asked to misreport
> parts of the
> cartoon to another person who has not seen it. She shows that in
> misreport
> sequences that contain a mismatch between linguistic and embodied
> information,
> the final output can be understood as a blend that reflects the
> different
> strategies the speaker has (e.g. producing talk that is part fact,
> part
> fiction). Franklin's findings empirically suggest that an embodied
> action or,
> for example, a facial expression can give the speaker away if s/he
> is not
> telling the right side of an issue.
> Cornelia Müller's paper ''A Dynamic View of Metaphor, Gesture and
> Thought'' (pp.
> 109-116) discusses metaphors and draws on McNeill's theory to
> outline a dynamic
> view of metaphor. With the help of an example from everyday
> interaction, she
> studies a metaphor that draws on the source domain LOVE AS A
> describes the role that gesture, head movement and language have in
> the
> activation, foregrounding and expression of metaphoricity in spoken
> interaction,
> and shows that interlocutors can use multiple modalities
> simultaneously to
> express metaphors. Müller's paper is important for linguists
> interested in
> metaphors, because it shows that metaphoricity is not only a
> linguistic phenomenon.
> In the last paper of the first section, ''Second Language
> Acquisition from a
> McNeillian Perspective'' (pp. 117-124), Gale A. Stam argues that
> rather than
> focusing on learners' speech only, second language acquisition
> (SLA) research
> would benefit from considering both speech and gesture, and how
> they figure in
> SLA. Most of the paper reviews prior SLA research that has
> considered the role
> of gesture in second/foreign language learning/teaching.
> Stam's paper is indeed a good review paper for SLA scholars who are
> not familiar
> with this particular area. Although space limitations perhaps did
> not allow
> this, it would have been interesting, for instance, to see an
> analysis of the
> role of gestures in language learning and how they reveal
> ''thinking for speaking''.
> The second section, which contains eight articles, takes a more
> interactional or
> 'interpersonal' approach to the relationship between language and
> gesture. In
> general, the papers in this section foreground the idea that
> language and the
> use of gestures should be investigated in the social context in
> which they are
> produced.
> The first paper in this section is Janet Bavelas's ''Face-to-face
> Dialogue as a
> Micro-social Context: The example of Motor-mimicry'' (pp. 127-146).
> The
> phenomenon that she describes (motor-mimicry in interaction) is very
> interesting. However, her paper also raises theoretical and
> research ethical
> issues. First of all, 'motor-mimicry' is a phenomenon that all of
> us can relate
> to. It refers, for instance, to a listener's embodied (wince) and/
> or spoken
> action (''ouch'') that follows an incident - or an account of such
> incident - in
> which someone is hurt. Based on her and her colleagues' prior
> research (Bavelas,
> Black, Lemery and Mullett 1986), she shows that counter to the
> general belief
> that such a mimic action is a cognitive reaction to stimulus that
> somehow
> expresses the actor's internal state of mind, 'motor-mimicry' is
> designed to be
> seen by the coparticipants and contingent upon, for example,
> whether the
> participants' gaze meet.
> By considering 'motor-mimicry' as a social, reciprocal and
> intersubjective
> practice, Bavelas also makes an important theoretical argument. Her
> work
> strongly supports the idea that individuals do not act in a vacuum;
> rather, the
> micro-social context, with its variable semiotic resources and
> stimuli,
> influences individuals and their actions in such fundamental ways
> that the
> analytic starting point cannot be the individual. This argument
> diverges from
> the general tendency in much research in linguistics and social
> psychology.
> Next, Bavelas paper takes an interesting metalinguistic turn
> towards considering
> research ethics. She takes a detailed view to how the above 1986
> paper has been
> cited. She shows that the original findings (see the argument
> above) have been
> largely misunderstood and miscited. She points out (p. 140) that
> she does not
> think that the miscitations are due to malevolence or deliberate
> behavior.
> Rather, she thinks that ''the authors simply read our experiment as
> fitting a
> familiar and expected pattern.'' The slight unconventionality of
> Bavelas's paper
> provides an important and refreshing contribution to the book.
> John B. Haviland's ''Master Speakers, Master Gesturers: A String
> Quartet Master
> Class'' (pp. 147-172) is an ethnographic/anthropological study that
> draws on
> McNeill's work and looks at gestures in a recording of string
> quarter 'Master
> Class' at Reed College Music Department. The data are from a
> teaching situation.
> Those readers (including me) who are not familiar with music
> teaching, musical
> notation or the musical world may find Haviland's paper
> challenging, but that is
> exactly the article's point. Haviland shows that in a
> playing-learning-teaching-music context, the challenge for the
> participants is
> to understand the ''big picture'' while taking care of one's own
> part. This
> context is extremely complicated because the participants have to
> manage and
> coordinate their actions in the emerging intersubjective and
> reciprocal
> environment. Haviland points out that the use of gestures, talk
> (and grammar)
> and other ''external'' material resources (such as musical scores)
> are carefully
> coordinated, as the musicians interact with each other during the
> production of
> music. The gist of the paper is provided in the last section where
> he - based on
> his data and analysis - argues that in the analysis of discourse,
> contrary to
> many theoretical and methodological trends, gesture should not be
> considered
> separate from speech.
> Haviland's paper and the points he raises have interesting
> parallels with the
> research done in Mediated Discourse Analysis (cf. Scollon and
> Scollon 2003;
> Norris 2004).
> Scott K. Liddell and Marit Vogt-Svendsen (''Constructing Spatial
> Conceptualizations from Limited Input: Evidence from Norwegian Sign
> Language'',
> pp. 173-194) look at Norwegian sign language. They compare
> different uses of
> space for conceptualizing meanings and doing referencing in a short
> narrative
> sequence when the referents are not present. They further look at
> how signers
> use these spatial conceptualizations as resources for further signing.
> Liddell and Vogt-Svendsen's article provides an illustrative
> description of the
> nature of signing. Especially the descriptions of how signers use
> the space in
> front of them (whether real or event space), how different signers
> do this in
> different ways, and how it still has to be conceptualized in order
> to be
> understood correctly, provide an interesting read.
> In the next paper, Charles Goodwin looks at ''Environmentally
> Coupled Gestures''
> (pp. 195-212). These are gestures ''that cannot be understood by
> participants
> without taking into account structure in the environment to which
> they are tied''
> (195). By drawing on data in which researchers are working at an
> archaeological
> excavation, he shows that meaning-making is a product of
> multimodality; i.e. it
> is a product of the use of and close interconnection between
> language, gestures
> and the relevant features of the environment. For linguists this is
> particularly
> interesting, because it complicates the general picture of how
> meaning-making is
> accomplished. In addition, Goodwin connects meaning (perhaps more
> than the other
> papers in this book) explicitly to the sequentially unfolding
> social actions and
> the meanings interlocutors understand them to have in particular
> moments in
> interaction. Goodwin's paper shows how talk and gesture, together
> with the
> semiotic resources in the surround, can all become relevant in the
> organization
> of meaning-making and action in social interaction. For example, he
> describes
> the structure of so-called 'hybrid utterances' (200) which are
> grammatically
> incomplete (e.g. lacking a predicate noun phrase), but completed
> with gesture
> and the material structure available for the participants in the
> surround.
> Irene Kimbara's article ''Indexing Locations in Gesture: Recalled
> Stimulus Image
> and Interspeaker Coordination as Factors Influencing Gesture
> Form'' (pp. 213-220)
> is an interesting experimental study that investigates whether
> humans in a
> dyadic interactional situation form gestures that originate from a
> visual image
> they have seen previously or whether they coordinate their gestures
> with those
> of their co-participants. The experiment was done by showing the
> same cartoon to
> a pair. However, without the subjects knowing it, the version of
> the cartoon
> that was seen by one subject was a mirror-image of the one seen by
> the other.
> After seeing the cartoon, the participants described the cartoon
> first in a
> monologue and then to each other. The descriptions were recorded.
> The study
> showed that when narrating the cartoon in a monologue the cartoon
> images
> strongly influenced the subjects' gesture trajectories. As for the
> dyadic
> situations, Kimbara's findings suggest that in general the
> participants'
> gestures followed the images they had seen in the cartoon, and thus
> were not so
> much influenced by their pair's gesturing. However, when the
> participants'
> gestures overlapped the number of conflicting gestures decreased by
> half. This
> suggests that when interlocutors gesture together, they are likely
> to coordinate
> their gestures with each other, irrespective of the original
> ''input''. This last
> finding may have interesting parallels with current neurolinguistic
> research on
> imitation, gestures and mirror neurons (e.g. Arbib 2005).
> Geoffrey Beattie and Heather Shovelton's article ''The Role of
> Iconic Gestures in
> Semantic Communication and Its Theoretical and Practical
> Implications'' (pp.
> 221-241) provides a brief and good review of prior linguistic and
> psychological
> research on the relationship between language and gesture. It also
> provides a
> short but illustrative description of the central points in
> McNeill's work.
> Their actual study looks at whether there is a difference in the
> amount of
> information listeners receive when just speech is available and
> when both speech
> and gesture are available. In general, their findings strongly
> suggest that
> iconic and metaphoric gestures are very effective in conveying
> semantic
> information. For linguists, an interesting finding - which supports
> McNeill's
> claims - is that there seems to be a connection between the
> transitivity/intransitivity of a clause and the gesture it accompanies
> (230-231). In the last part of the paper, they discuss the
> possibilities of
> applying the McNeillian theory for improving knowledge of TV
> advertising.
> Beattie's and Shovelton's paper is interesting, although it would
> have been even
> better if it had included pictures or illustrations of the examples.
> Mika Ishino's article ''Intersubjectivity in Gestures: The
> Speaker's Perspectives
> toward the addressee'' (pp. 243-250) continues the theme of the
> previous paper.
> However, it focuses more on how speakers use gestures by
> specifically taking the
> addressee into account. She shows how the use of gestures arises
> from the needs
> of the interactional situation and how the use of the gestures can
> be influenced
> by the intersubjective dynamics of the spatial and interactional
> situation.
> Starkey Duncan Jr.'s paper ''An Integrated Approach to the Study of
> Convention,
> Conflict, and Compliance in Interaction'' (pp. 251-266) is published
> posthumously. He died in May 2007 at the age of 71. Although he
> studied the
> interaction between verbal and non-verbal communication, his paper
> differs from
> the other papers in the book in that it does not mention gestures
> at all.
> Rather, it attempts to construct a structural framework for
> understanding and
> describing face-to-face-interaction. He argues that interaction is
> convention
> based and rule governed. Many of the claims that he makes in the
> paper are
> similar to findings made in Conversation Analysis. For example, his
> notions of
> 'conflict' and 'compliance' seem to have close connections with
> 'preference
> structure' and 'repair'.
> The final section is the shortest one. It includes three papers on
> language and
> gesture with aphasic patients, autistic children and artificial
> humans.
> The first paper, Susan Duncan's and Laura Pedelty's ''Discourse
> Focus, Gesture,
> and Disfluent Aphasia'' (pp. 269-283), uses the McNeillian method
> to investigate
> the tendency of people suffering from Broca's aphasia to omit or
> nominalize
> verbs in talk. They study this phenomenon by comparing cross-
> linguistic embodied
> interaction of non-aphasic speakers to that of a person suffering
> from Broca's
> aphasia. For their argument, it is important to see that the
> discourse focus in
> an utterance is not necessarily on the verb. (This finding has
> interesting
> parallels with many cross-linguistic discourse-functional and
> interactional
> linguistic studies on transitivity (Hopper and Thompson 1980;
> Thompson and
> Hopper 2001) and argument structure (Du Bois 2003).) The authors
> argue that
> aphasic speakers' gesture-speech utterances highlight similar
> (discourse-focal)
> constituents as non-aphasic speakers' utterances. As the authors
> argue, this
> finding ''is suggestive of the possibility that a disfluent aphasic
> attempts
> utterance production on the basis of discourse model similar to
> that of the
> non-aphasic speaker.'' (280). This finding also supports, as the
> authors note,
> Charles Goodwin's work (Goodwin 1995; Goodwin, Goodwin and Olsher
> 2002; Goodwin
> 2003) in that it shows that people suffering from aphasia have the
> means to
> construct meaningful action in discourse; meaning does not just
> arise from language.
> Elena Levy's ''The Construction of a Temporally Coherent Narrative
> by an Autistic
> Adolescent: Co-contributions of Speech, Enactment and
> Gesture'' (pp. 285-301)
> reports a study in which an autistic adolescent was asked to retell
> a story of a
> film (_The Red Balloon_) on three consecutive days. She shows that the
> adolescent's embodied actions changed significantly during these
> three days, so
> that compared to the first session when he produced mostly elicited
> talk with
> little gesturing, in the following session he enacted the story,
> and on the last
> day his speech-movement combinations had developed so that they
> were adult-like
> and he seemed to rely on his own earlier discourse while doing the
> retelling.
> Levy then connects her findings to McNeill's work on 'catchments',
> to the
> coherence-creating function of gestures and to ontogenesis.
> In the last paper of the book, ''The Body in Communication: Lessons
> from the
> Near-Human'' (pp. 303-322), Justine Cassell describes the
> challenges in her work
> of trying to teach virtual humans to do and say things the way
> humans do. She
> argues that through such an enterprise one can really begin to
> understand how
> intricate, complex and emergent human embodied behavior is, and to
> learn what we
> yet do not know about it. Cassell's interesting paper proposes a
> simple, but
> nice, idea: building a perfect virtual human is not the ultimate
> goal; the
> ultimate goal is to try to learn something about humans from the
> imperfect
> virtual humans.
> This is a paper that scholars working in the interdisciplinary
> space between
> technological sciences / information engineering / computer
> sciences and
> linguistics (on artificial intelligence, for example) should read.
> The research presented in the book describes work that has been
> going on for
> some time. What is important, however, is that this body of
> research is now
> available between single covers. It is therefore a great book for
> introducing
> oneself to gesture studies. The studies in the volume represent a
> wide array of
> research that focuses on the relationship between language, gesture
> (embodiment)
> and speech. Reading this book made me realize how little we (as
> linguists) in
> fact know about the cognitive and interactional aspects of
> gestures, and their
> relationship with talk and language. A great deal of linguistic
> research is done
> with invented examples, written-language corpora or spoken-language
> corpora, but
> without video. Still, it is quite possible that by using multimodal
> data
> linguists may learn new aspects of even the very fundamental
> linguistic notions,
> like Goodwin (Goodwin 1979) and Lerner (Lerner 1991) have shown
> with respect to
> 'sentence'. For linguists especially, the basic presupposition in
> McNeill's work
> is that language is emergent and dynamic and, moreover, that
> gesture is part of
> language, not a separate element. This view is relatively
> unfamiliar in
> ''mainstream'' linguistics, but can have profound consequences for
> understanding
> the origins of language and language evolution, language structure,
> grammar,
> language in use, and so on and so forth. The papers in this book
> show that the
> relationship between interaction, embodiment and language is much
> more complex
> than is generally assumed and recognized. Especially the studies in
> the second
> part of the book, which primarily consists of sequential and
> multimodal analyses
> of language and interaction show that we are dealing with extremely
> complex
> phenomena.
> Some of the papers are very short and thus scratch only the surface
> of the
> phenomena they describe. However, it is difficult to see this as a
> demerit,
> because - as I see it - the articles function as introductions or
> references to
> research described in detail elsewhere. This is a benefit for those
> who want to
> get a broad view of gesture studies in general, but brief glances
> at individual
> research topics. I would recommend the book to students and other
> scholars who
> want to become acquainted with the research done on the
> relationship between
> gesture and language. Those who are more familiar with gesture
> research will
> still find research topics and findings of which they perhaps have
> not read or
> heard of before.
> My guess is that the linguistic audience in general is quite
> unfamiliar with
> gesture studies and its possible connections to linguistic
> research. I am sure
> that this book can raise some interesting questions to linguists.
> At times, it
> can also be quite thought-provoking, because it raises issues that
> challenge
> many traditional theoretical views about for example language and
> cognition.
> Nevertheless, there are many important messages that this book
> conveys to
> linguists. One general point concerns the importance of considering
> embodied
> practices, gestures and social interaction together when we
> investigate language
> and linguistics structures. Moreover, this book shows that it is
> important to
> consider gestures and embodiment in order to better understanding
> where language
> comes from and what the importance of multimodal data is for
> understanding
> language. The book also raises big issues that are important for
> understanding
> grammar (syntax, pragmatics and semantics). It opens up new
> horizons for
> linguistic research by challenging and renegotiating many generally
> held
> assumptions about the nature of language.
> There are few glitches in the book. One thing I would like to
> mention, though,
> regards the editorial work. There are quite a few misspellings and
> incoherent
> sentences, as well as some editorial errors. For example Figure 5b
> in Hoiting's
> and Slobin's article seems to be the wrong picture. In addition,
> some of the
> reported findings would have greatly benefited from evidence in the
> form of
> drawings or illustrations. Unfortunately, such evidence is often
> missing, which
> occasionally makes it quit difficult to understand an argument. When
> illustrations are used, sometimes they are too small and dark.
> In sum, this is a great book.
> Arbib, Michael. (2005). The Mirror System Hypothesis: how did
> protolanguage
> evolve. In Margaret Tallerman, (ed.), _Language Origins:
> Perspective on
> Evolution_. Vol. 21-47. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
> Bavelas, Janet Beavin, Black, Alex, Lemery, C.R. & Mullett,
> Jennifer. (1986).
> ''I show how you feel'': Motor mimicry as a communicative act.
> _Journal of
> Personality and Social Psychology_ 50: 322-329.
> Du Bois, John W. (2003). Argument structure: Grammar in use. In
> John W. Du Bois,
> Lorraine Kumpf & William J. Ashby, (ed.), _Preferred Argument
> Structure: Grammar
> as architecture for function_. Vol. 11-60. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
> Goodwin, Charles. (1979). The Interactive Construction of a
> Sentence in Natural
> Conversation. In George Psathas, (ed.), _Everyday Language: Studies in
> Ethnomethodology_. Vol. 97-121. New York: Irvington Publishers.
> Goodwin, Charles. (1995). Co-Constructing Meaning in Conversations
> with an
> Aphasic Man. _Research on Language and Social Interaction_ 28(3):
> 233-260.
> Goodwin, Charles. (2003). Conversational Frameworks for the
> Accomplishment of
> Meaning in Aphasia. In Charles Goodwin, (ed.), _Conversation and
> Brain Damage_.
> Vol. 90-116. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
> Goodwin, Charles, Goodwin, Marjorie Harness & Olsher, David.
> (2002). Producing
> Sense with Nonsense Syllables: Turn and Sequence in the
> Conversations of a Man
> with Severe Aphasia. In Barbara Fox, Cecilia A. Ford & Sandra A.
> Thompson,
> (ed.), _The Language of Turn and Sequence_. Vol. 56-80. Oxford: Oxford
> University Press.
> Hopper, Paul J. & Thompson, Sandra A. (1980). Transitivity in
> Grammar and
> Discourse. _Language_ 56(2): 251-299.
> Lerner, Gene H. (1991). On the syntax of sentences-in-progress.
> _Language in
> Society_ 20: 441-458.
> Norris, Sigrid. (2004). _Analysing Multimodal Interaction: A
> Methodological
> Framework_. New York & London: Routledge.
> Scollon, Ron & Scollon, S. Wong. (2003). _Discourses in place:
> Language in the
> material world_. London and New York: Routledge.
> Thompson, Sandra A. & Hopper, Paul J. (2001). Transitivity, clause
> structure,
> and argument structure: evidence from conversation. In Joan L.
> Bybee & Paul J.
> Hopper, (ed.), _Frequency and the emergence of linguistic
> structure_. Vol.
> 27-60. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
> Pentti Haddington is a post-doc researcher at the University of
> Oulu, Finland.
> He has recently done research in interactional linguistics,
> discourse-functional
> linguistics and conversation analysis. His recent work includes
> research on
> stance taking in news interviews and the use of the body in
> interaction. He is
> currently working in the Talk&Drive project, which investigates
> interaction in
> cars.
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