Abstract - Lin

Use of gestures when describing motion events

Abstract: Communication is a dynamic interaction that reflects, in part, the listener's need for information and the speaker's ability to meet that need. Face-to-face communication is accomplished via spoken language and gesture. In this project, we are interested in how speakers exploit the speech and gesture modalities in tandem. Specifically, we will investigate the extent to which gestures supplement and complement spoken language a) as the listener's need for information increases and b) as the speaker's ability to meet that need increases. Listeners' needs will be varied via experimental manipulation. Speakers' abilities will be operationalized by age-4-years, 6-years, and adulthood-and by individual variation in memory and pragmatic abilities within each age group. We propose to focus the speaker-listener interaction on motion events because such events constitute complex but universal communicative topics. We hypothesize that motion events with more elements will elicit more gesture than those with fewer elements a) because the listener's needs are greater; and b) because demands on the working memory of the speaker are greater. We will also explore the extent to which pragmatic ability influences gesture inclusion. (Shanju Lin, collaborating with Amanda Van Horne, Susan Wagner Cook and Karla McGregor).