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Structure de l’expression du déplacement en français: Relation gestualité-langage, comparaison interlinguistique et perspective développementale

Abstract : It has been known for a while that French is predominantly a verb-framed language, in which Motion is encoded differently from satellite-framed languages, and this difference is apparent in the content and structure of the verbal expression of Motion (Talmy 1985). During the last decade, a number of studies have focused on A) the gestural expression of Motion produced by adult speakers of different languages (e.g. McNeil & Duncan 2000; Özyürek et al. 2005), and B) the development of the gestural expression of Motion from infancy to adulthood (e.g. Gullberg, Hickmann, & Hendriks 2008; Özyürek et al. 2008). There are at least three reasons for the interest in gesture in the domain of Motion expression. First, expression is considered as a multimodal phenomenon realized through different tools - not only speech, but also behaviour, facial expressions or hand gestures. Second, the imagistic nature of gestures makes them a great tool to represent Motion (e.g. a raised hand representing an upward movement or wriggling fingers showing a running movement). Third, co-verbal gesture is a very frequent behaviour that semantically and pragmatically coordinates with speech but can also A) display speakers’ mental contents and intentions that are not necessarily verbalized or B) emphasize those elements of verbalized contents that are actually the core ideas of speakers’ intentions (Kendon 2004; McNeill 1992). A cross-linguistic perspective is crucial in order to distinguish language-specific features of gesture from its universal properties. A developmental perspective helps to gain insight into the acquisition of adult-like (language specific or universal) patterns of gesturing. The most recent studies have shown that despite differences found in verbally conveyed content, speakers of verb-framed languages and speakers of satellite-framed languages share a preference for gesturing about Path only, and this is true at all the ages observed (e.g. Fibigerová, Guidetti, & Šulová 2012; Hickmann, Hendriks, & Gullberg 2011). This chapter will focus on the comparison of verbal and gestural structure. Do French speakers, in accordance with their typical verbal pattern, separate Path elements and Manner elements into two different gestures rather than include them in a single gesture? A few studies have addressed this issue but their results are not conclusive. Our study offers a more subtle definition of “structure” that consists in a distinction between 1) the number of gestures produced to express both Path and Manner, and 2) the complexity of individual gestures within a multi-gestural expression. The data were collected from typologically opposed French and Czech speakers – children aged 5 and 10 and adults – during narrations of short video-sketches that displayed salient Motion events. Although French participants needed more clauses in order to express both Path and Manner than Czech participants, this difference was not reflected in gesture. However, a slight difference appeared in gesture when it came to the second variable: when more than one gesture was produced by participants, French speakers actually separated Path and Manner more frequently than Czech speakers who included path and manner in at least one of their multiple gestures. In both language groups the frequency of multi-gestural descriptions increased with age but no age effect was found for the complexity of individual gestures in a multi-gestural expression. Details are discussed in the light of the language impact on gestural and cognitive development.
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Contributor : Katerina Fibigerova <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, October 17, 2018 - 1:05:12 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, October 14, 2020 - 3:44:17 AM


  • HAL Id : hal-01897576, version 1


Katerina Fibigerova, Michèle Guidetti. Structure de l’expression du déplacement en français: Relation gestualité-langage, comparaison interlinguistique et perspective développementale. Espace linguistique et dynamicité: Quelques points de vue récents sur l’expression du déplacement en français, Mar 2016, Toulouse, France. ⟨hal-01897576⟩



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