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

From: Mike Cole <lchcmike who-is-at>
Date: Fri May 09 2008 - 17:44:00 PDT

Wow, that was a great review of a really interesting book on an
interesting topic. All the way back to Kendon!

Thanks phil.

On Fri, May 9, 2008 at 4:35 PM, Ana Christina
<> wrote:
> Thank you so much for sending this information through the listserv, Phil.
> 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
> 2008
> 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 Class.
> Daniela Sime
> 13. Gesture and the Negoitation of Meaning in a Second Language Classroom
> 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 JOURNEY. She
>> 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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Received on Fri May 9 17:45 PDT 2008

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