Deconstructing beat gestures: a labelling proposal

Pilar Prieto, Alice Cravotta, Olga Kushch, Patrick Rohrer, Ingrid Vilà-Giménez


In this paper, we advance a comprehensive gesture labelling proposal which highlights the independence of the prosodic and semantic properties of different gesture types and at the same time challenges a simplistic definition of beat gestures as biphasic rhythmic non-meaningful gestures (e.g., [1][2]). Following McNeill’s [3] original proposal on gesture dimensions, we defend that all gesture types can associate with prosodic prominence, and even though beat gestures typically display this rhythmic behavior, this is also the case with other representational and pointing gestures too. Second, with respect to meaning, while beat gestures do not represent referential nor metaphoric content, they can serve a range of meaningful pragmatic and discursive functions in speech, which deserve to be further investigated. From a practical point of view, we propose that all non-referential manual gestures be initially classified as forms of beat gestures with a set of associated properties related to gesture form, prosodic form and pragmatic form. This gesture labelling proposal independently codes for (a) the form of gestures, (b) their properties of temporal association with prosodic prominence, and (c) their pragmatic meaning. We claim that this move allows for a more complete analysis of gestures in large-scale studies and opens the way for more comprehensive assessments of the interaction between gesture forms, prosodic forms, and semantic forms using labelled corpora.


 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-41

Cite as: Prieto, P., Cravotta, A., Kushch, O., Rohrer, P., Vilà-Giménez, I. (2018) Deconstructing beat gestures: a labelling proposal. Proc. 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2018, 201-205, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-41.


@inproceedings{Prieto2018,
  author={Pilar Prieto and Alice Cravotta and Olga Kushch and Patrick Rohrer and Ingrid Vilà-Giménez},
  title={Deconstructing beat gestures: a labelling proposal},
  year=2018,
  booktitle={Proc. 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2018},
  pages={201--205},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-41},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-41}
}