A cross-cultural study on the use of gestures: Evidence for cross-linguistic transfer?

Simone Pika, Elena Nicoladis, Paula F. Marentette

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Anecdotal reports provide evidence of so called "hybrid" gesturer whose non-verbal behavior of one language/culture becomes visible in the other The direction of this gestural transfer seems to occur from a high to a low frequency gesture language. The purpose of this study was therefore to test systematically 1) whether gestural transfer occurs from a high frequency gesture language to a low frequency gesture language, 2) if the frequency of production of some gesture types is more likely to be transferred than others, and 3) whether gestural transfer can also occur bi-directionally. To address these questions, we investigated the use of gestures of English-Spanish bilinguals, French English bilinguals, and English monolinguals while retelling a cartoon. Our analysis focused on the rate of gestures and the frequency of production of gesture types. There was a significant difference in the overall rate of gestures: both bilingual groups gestured more than monolingual participants. This difference was particularly salient for iconic gestures. In addition, we found that French-English bilinguals used more deictic gestures in their L2. The results suggest that knowledge of a high frequency gesture language affects the gesture rate in a low-frequency gesture language.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-327
Number of pages9
JournalBilingualism: Language and Cognition
Volume9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2006

Keywords

  • REPRESENTATIONS
  • ACQUISITION
  • BEHAVIOR
  • SPEAKING
  • THINKING
  • WORDS

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