Cornelia Ebert (Leibniz-ZAS Berlin)

Post-speech gestures: semantic effects of gesture-speech alignment

The temporal alignment of gesture and speech is decisive for the information status (at-issue vs. not-at-issue in the sense of Potts 2005) and the semantic interpretation of the involved items.

I will argue (against Schlenker 2016) that while co-speech gestures are not-at-issue by default (Ebert & Ebert 2014; Schlenker 2016), certain types of post-speech gestures contribute at-issue information. I propose a continuous scale of self-contained gesture interpretation with co-speech gestures as one extreme and fully separated stand-alone post speech gestures as the other: post- speech gestures that have their own time slot (and possibly other stand-alone properties) are interpreted at issue, but post-speech gestures that are performed directly after the speech-signal or even partly overlap with it may be interpreted as not-at-issue; the more the gestures are synchronized with speech the “less at issue” they are (cf. Kendon’s continuum, Kendon 1980). In this view, co-speech gestures are clearly not at-issue, because they fully overlap with speech and thus have to compete with verbal semantic information that is presented at the same time.

Furthermore, I will compare the behaviour of different types of post-speech gestures with the semantic properties of different types of appositives. Here also, timing seems to play a crucial role. While sentence-medial appositives are generally seen as contributing non-at-issue information, it has been argued that sentence-final appositive clauses are interpreted as contributing at-issue information (AnderBois et al. 2014; Koev 2013).