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GESPIN – GESTURE & SPEECH IN INTERACTION – Poznań, 24-26 September 2009

Linear and simultaneous forms of gesture combination Susanne Tag & Cornelia Müller European University Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder),

Abstract Studying gestures as they are used in (mainly German) everyday conversation reveals that, even within a single utterance, gestures frequently do not occur as isolated items but in combination with each other (Müller and Tag in prep.). In this talk, we will give an empirical insight into possible forms of co-speech gesture combinations that are reconstructed on the basis of detailed analyses of structural relations between two or more gestures. These relations are first and foremost described as temporal relations: a mere succession of gestures establishes a linear form of gesture combination (cf. Fricke 2008), whereas an overlap of gestures establishes a simultaneous form (Tag in prep.; cf. also Enfield 2004). Simultaneous gesture combinations may involve different forms of time structures and therefore are predominantly analyzed on the basis of the gestures’ temporal relation itself. Gestures in such a combination are framed as ‘simultaneous gesture constructions’ (Tag in prep.) – thus relating gesture analysis to signed language research on similar forms of combination (cf. Vermeerbergen et al. 2007). Linear gesture combinations, however, involve only one time structure and therefore are analyzed with respect to the further formal characteristics of the combined gestures in relation to one another: gestures can be related linearly by maintaining one or more of the four form parameters (hand shape, orientation of the hand, movement and position in gesture space) while changing the remaining ones. Particular attention will be paid to the use of gesture space as a means of linear combination of gestures (Müller and Tag in prep.). To conclude: The talk aims at providing first results of a documentation of basic forms of gesture combination. More precisely, it aims at directing the attention to the various ways in which co-speech gestures may be combined into more complex patterns as one part of a multimodal use of language.

Bibliography Enfield, N. (2004). On linear segmentation and combinatorics in co-speech gesture: A symmetry-dominance construction in Lao fish trap descriptions. In Semiotica 149, 57-123. Fricke, E. (2008). Grundlagen einer multimodalen Grammatik des Deutschen: Syntaktische Strukturen und Funktionen. Habilitation, Europa-Universität Viadrina, unpublished manuscript (will be published in 2009 by de Gruyter). Müller, C and S. Tag (in prep.). Combining gestures: complex patterns of coverbal gestures. Tag, S. (in prep.). Simultaneous constructions in co-speech gestures. In J. Bressem and S. H. Ladewig (eds.) Handmade patterns. Recurrent forms and functions of gestures. Vermeerbergen, M., L. Leeson, O. Crasborn (eds.) (2007). Simultaneity in Signed Languages: Form and Function. Amsterdam, Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

TAG, Susanne Tag & Cornelia Müller Abstract European University Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder)