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Gesture-speech alignment in bilingual and monolingual speakers

Time: Fri 2019-10-11 15.15

Location: F0 (Lindstedtsvägen 24, floor 5, room no. 527)

Lecturer: Maria Graziano

Talk abstract:
When speaking, people often produce gestures that are closely timed with
the speech with which they constitute a semantically coherent unit.
Despite the general agreement on the semantic and the temporal
coordination between speech and gesture, a close analysis of their
temporal alignment is crucial for theorising about the relationship
between the two modalities.

In this study we tested three hypotheses related to the temporal
synchrony of referential gestures and semantically coherent speech in
English/French monolinguals and bilinguals.

Results revealed that the two language populations show a similar
gesture-speech temporal pattern: synchronous gestures were significantly
more frequent than asynchronous ones; asynchronous gestures both
preceded and followed the correlated speech, yet preceding gestures
tended to occur more often. A qualitative analysis conducted for
asynchronous gestures revealed that they may serve a rhetoric function.
We argue that the variability in gesture–speech timing results from
speakers' strategic use of gesture.

Speaker bio:
I hold a double PhD in Linguistics obtained from European School of
Advanced Studies at the University “Suor Orsola Benincasa”
(Napoli-Italy) and Université Stendhal (Grenoble-France). In my thesis I
investigated how children of different ages (4 to 10 years) develop the
use of different kinds of gestures (in terms of their functions) in
relation to the development of narrative ability.

My interest in gesture studies traces back to my university years in
Naples, when I had the chance to attend Adam Kendon’s seminars and work
under his supervision for my master thesis (in which I compared the use
of a specific gesture - the palm up gesture- in Neapolitan and
English-speaking speakers)

After my PhD I got a position as a post-doctoral fellow in Canada at the
University of Alberta, where I worked on gesture-speech alignment in
bilinguals and monolinguals (the work I’m presenting for the seminar).

In 2011 I was awarded a grant from the Swedish Research Council and I
joined Lund University Humanities Lab, where I currently work as a
researcher and educational developer. Since I moved to Sweden, I have
been working on several projects all dealing with gesture-speech
relationship both from a general theoretical point of view (e.g.,
gesture-speech relationship in speech fluency and disfluency), and from
a cross-linguistic point of view (e.g., differences in gesture
production in Swedish and Italian speakers).