Auditory-Visual Speech Processing (AVSP) 2009

University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
September 10-13, 2009

Alignment in Iconic Gestures: Does it Make Sense?

Lisette Mol, Emiel Krahmer, Marc Swerts

Communication and Cognition group, Department of Humanities, Tilburg University, The Netherlands

Many studies have shown that people imitate and repeat each otherís behaviors. This holds for both verbal and nonverbal behavior. The production of co-speech hand gestures is a special case of nonverbal behavior, because it is believed to be tightly linked to verbal language production and because gestures can carry meaning in a way that is similar to verbal language. It has been shown that people reuse each otherís hand shapes for cospeech gestures. This study looks at the relevance of gesturesí meaning and their relation to speech for such mimicry to occur. In two studies we found that speakers mimicked iconic gestures that they had observed, but only if these gestures were consistent with the co-occurring speech. This is evidence that the mimicry of iconic gestures is an instance of convergence of linguistic behavior, also known as alignment, rather than a supercial imitation of physical behavior.

Index Terms: alignment, gesture, narration

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Mol, Lisette / Krahmer, Emiel / Swerts, Marc (2009): "Alignment in iconic gestures: does it make sense?", In AVSP-2009, 3-8.