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How do children and adults gesturally manage the activation status of referents in discourse?

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Sekine, K., & Kita, S. (2014). How do children and adults gesturally manage the activation status of referents in discourse?. Talk presented at the 6th Conference of the International Society for Gesture Studies. San Diego, CA, USA. 2014-08-27 - 2014-07-11.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002C-0BE6-1
Abstract
This study investigated how adults and children use speech and gesture to clarify whether a referent is active at a given moment in discourse. As Chafe (1987) argued, a referent that is newly introduced in a story becomes an active referent. Although the referent becomes a semi-active referent as the story moves on to other topics, if the referent is mentioned again, it is reactivated. However, it is difficult to obtain direct evidence that a certain referent is semi-active when analyzing only spoken expression. It is also not clear when the abil- ity to manage a semi-active referent develops. We propose that a semi-active referent is visible in two-handed gestures in which one hand depicts/indicates an active referent, referred to in the concurrent speech, and the other hand that is held in the air indicates a semi-active referent. The participants were twenty native speakers of English consisting of four different age groups. Each group had five participants, 3-year-olds (M = 3:8), 5-year-olds (M = 5:7), 9-year-olds (M = 9:4) and adults (M = 27.6) (This is a re- analysis of existing data, reported in ̈ Ozy ̈ urek, et al., 2008). A set of 10 video clips depicting motion events was used to elicit speech and gesture. Gestures were coded one of the three following categories; both handed gesture, single handed gesture, or single handed gesture with a semi-active- referent hold (one hand is depicting or indicating the active referent while the other hand is held in the air to indicate a semi-active referent). An ANOVA was conducted on the pro- portion of the gestures in each category with age group as the between-subject factor. The main effect of the age group was found in the proportion of the single handed gesture with a semi-active-referent hold, F(3, 19) = 4.11, p = .001, 2 = .50. Post-hoc tests (Tukey, p < .05) revealed that the propor- tion was significantly higher in adults (20%) than in 3-year- olds (3%) and 5-year-olds (0%), but not in 9-year-olds (5%). However, no main effect of the age group was found in the proportions of the both handed gesture (A=23%, 3yo=33%, 5yo=13%, 9yo=14%) and the single handed gesture (A=57%, 3yo= 65%, 5yo=87%, 9yo=81%). An ANOVA was conducted on the proportion of the ges- tures in each category with age group as the between-subject factor. The main effect of the age group was found in the proportion of the single handed gesture with a semi-active- referent hold, F(3, 19) = 4.11, p = .001, 2 = .50. Post-hoc tests (Tukey, p < .05) revealed that the proportion was significantly higher in adults (20%) than in 3-year-olds (3%) and 5-year- olds (0%), but not in 9-year-olds (5%). However, no main ef- fect of the age group was found in the proportions of the both handed gesture (A=23%, 3yo=33%, 5yo=13%, 9yo=14%) and the single handed gesture (A=57%, 3yo= 65%, 5yo=87%, 9yo=81%).