Berlin Gesture Center | Interdisziplinäres BGC-Kolloquium


Vortrag von Mandana Seyfeddinipur:

Repair at hand

Freitag, 25. August 2006, 19 Uhr, Boltzmannstr. 3 (Raum 1105), 14195 Berlin (U-Bahnhof Thielplatz)

A common view is that when we express contradicting information in speech and gesture (e.g., we point to the left while saying right), it is the gesture that is correct while speech is wrong. There seems to be several assumptions underlying this view, namely: (1) that gesture does not go wrong; (2) that we only monitor and correct speech but not gesture; or (3) that a possible gesture correction does not influence speech performance. To investigate these assumptions, video-recordings of informal interviews (with native German speakers) were conducted in which people were asked to describe their own living spaces. These were examined for moments of speech and gesture disfluencies of various types. It was found that gestures are repaired in terms of correctness of the expressed content, and in terms of recipient design features such as visual accessibility (e.g., moving the gesturing hands higher or lower into central visual space). Moreover, in these gesture repairs, the gesture is reformulated while speech is not altered. It can also be observed that speech is not resumed until gesture is resumed. The results show that gesture does go wrong, that gestures are monitored and repaired in case of trouble, and that these repairs affect speech performance. Thus both gesture and speech must be regarded as components of the speaker's final product, and this final product is monitored as a unity. The broader methodological and theoretical implications of these findings for gesture research will be discussed. For example, what are the requirements to identify a gestural disfluency? What do the results suggest about the possibility of using gesture as a window onto the mind, as a direct reflection of cognitive processes?


Mandana Seyfeddinipur studied Linguistics, German Studies, Persian Studies and German as a Foreign Language at the Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. For her PhD she joined the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, Netherlands. She worked in the Gesture Project within the Language and Cognition group. Her dissertation investigated speech disfluency and gesture using a psycholinguistic approach.