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Development of Speech-Gesture Relation in the Context of French and Czech Descriptions of Motion Events

Abstract : Based on the theoretical background combining the hypothesis of linguistic relativity (Whorf, 1956), the verb-framed vs. satellite-framed language typology (Talmy, 1985) and the gesture-speech tandem conception (McNeill, 1992), we studied the language and age impact on the way French and Czech natives speak and gesture when describing motion. French and Czech 5 and 10 year old children and adults told just watched animated cartoons containing voluntary motion events (Hickmann, 2006; Gullberg et al., 2008; Özyürek et al., 2008). The analysis of their speech and gesture brought five main results: (1) Children adopt adult language-specific descriptive patterns very early. French children verbalise motion path (up/down) rather than manner (walking/running) while Czech children express both path and manner. (2) Semantic density of motion descriptions grows with age but in language-specific ways. In French, an increasing number of clauses was observed: manner information appears in a second clause in addition to a path clause. In Czech, a decreasing number of motion expressions was found: path and manner information are conflated into one verb rather than split into two separate expressions. (3) Children produce co-speech iconic gesture less frequently than adults. (4) Concerning the gesture-speech relation, we observed cases of semantic redundancy (path&manner in speech - path&manner in gesture) as well as those of non-redundancy (path&manner in speech - only path in gesture). (5) Gesture provides more appropriate representation of originally viewed manner than speech. When verbally conveyed manner is less appropriate, gesture completely excludes manner information or makes corrections but almost never displays incorrect manner.
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Contributor : Katerina Fibigerova <>
Submitted on : Monday, May 12, 2014 - 2:50:46 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, July 21, 2020 - 3:54:57 AM


  • HAL Id : hal-00989825, version 1


Katerina Fibigerova, Michèle Guidetti, Lenka Sulova. Development of Speech-Gesture Relation in the Context of French and Czech Descriptions of Motion Events. 12th Congress of the International Association for the Study of Child Language, Jul 2011, Montréal, Canada. ⟨hal-00989825⟩



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