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Another face of catchment: Does it have any impact on what we talk about

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Furuyama, N., & Sekine, K. (2007). Another face of catchment: Does it have any impact on what we talk about. Talk presented at the 3rd Conference of the International Society for Gesture Studies. Chicago, IL, USA. 2007-06-18 - 2007-06-21.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002C-0A2F-7
When asked to retell a cartoon story ( Canary Row ), most narrators avoid mentioning a particular piece of information in the story. We found that narrators avoid mentioning it probably because by referring to it they would collapse the catchment, which is the recurrence of one or more gesture features in discourse and is useful for reference maintenance because of the recurrent features that suggest a common discourse theme. The avoided information in question is the direction in which the cat, the protagonist, escapes from the old woman in the punch line of the fifth scene. Up to that point, all of the scenes end with the cat being thrown out from the left to the right of the screen (The vertical dimension is ignored here). In the fifth scene, the cat escapes from the right to the left, deviating from the consistent pattern that had been established by then. The irregular pattern could possibly call for special attention as new information, but the piece of information is actually often dropped from the narrative. We explain the phenomenon in terms of catchment, which in many narrations of this particular story materializes as the default positions of the cartoon characters, direction of movement, etc., and is used to maintain references. If the narrator collapses the catchment by mentioning the deviant spatial pattern to be precise, he or she would not be able to use the catchment for reference maintenance again. Thus, for many speakers, the priority was on easy reference maintenance by keeping the catchment intact. This also explains why many speakers mention the deviant spatial pattern in the final scene, because the narrator no longer has to maintain a reference after talking about the final scene. The phenomenon suggests that the catchment not only serves to achieve cohesiveness in discourse (e.g., reference maintenance), but also may constrain the selection of information to talk about.