When hands stop moving, interaction keeps going: A study of manual holds in the management of conversation in French-speaking and signing Belgium

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Abstract

This study explores moments in signed and spoken conversation when manual production is on hold and its resulting interactive ramifications. Typically, the temporal structure of gesture and sign can be decomposed into a stream of distinct manual phases. There are moments, however, when this activity is stopped. This may happen for various reasons, e.g., when seeking attention, holding the floor or during overlaps. Holds have mostly been examined in sign languages regarding prosody, syntax, and corresponding to vowel lengthening in spoken languages. In gesture studies, they have been overlooked for not deemed relevant in the gesture-speech interface. By combining contrastive and multimodal analyses, this paper examines the relevance of holds as potential meaning-making practices deployed by LSFB signers and its comparison to Belgian French speakers. In 3 hours of video-recorded material drawn from 3 multimodal corpora, the following question is addressed: what are the roles of holds in the management of interaction within and across languages/modalities? While most of linguistic work considers manual movements to express referential content, the observations here push to reconsider the common boundary set between what constitutes gestural/linguistic phenomena in one language and what does not.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)290-321
Number of pages32
JournalLanguages in Contrast : International Journal of Contrastive Linguistics
Volume22
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Aug 2022

Keywords

  • Belgian French/LSFB
  • contrastive analysis
  • gesture
  • interaction
  • multimodality

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