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Title: Physical embodiment of meaning? An exploration of the role of iconic gestures in human communication
Author: Shovelton, Heather Karen
ISNI:       0000 0001 2414 7152
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2001
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This thesis contains a set of empirical investigations, which explore a fundamental issue in human communication, namely the functional significance of iconic hand gestures that accompany speech. Some researchers argue that these iconic gestures function for the speaker to facilitate lexical retrieval from the mental lexicon (e.g. Butterworth and Hadar, 1989; 1997). An alternative theory is that these iconic gestures are to do with the communication of information from a speaker to a listener (e.g. McNeill, 1985; 1992). This important debate forms the basis of the current research. The research reported in this thesis was found to provide little evidence for the lexical access theoretical position but provide important supporting evidence for the argument that iconic gestures are essentially communicative. It has shown convincingly that information about the world out there is encoded into speech and gesture and seems to provide a substantial body of evidence that iconic gestures do indeed convey semantic information to respondents. It has also shown that some iconic gestures are more communicative than others and that the occurrence of these gestures is affected by certain identifiable properties of talk. One of the strengths of the current research is that it is now more precisely known what semantic information is actually received by respondents from gesture and hence this research provides a much better insight into how the linguistic and gestural codes interact in the communication of meaning. The research reported in this thesis suggests that those researchers who neglect iconic gesture in their study of how language is used in eveiyday life are missing a major component of the process of human communication.
Supervisor: Beattie, Geoffrey Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Behavioral psychology ; Experimental psychology