Processes of stabilization in gestures. A media-specific and cross-modal approach

Investigator:
Dr. Silva Ladewig, University of Göttingen

Project description:
Recurrent gestures are conventionalized, co-speech gestural forms that show functional similarities with linguistic elements of spoken and signed languages. They are specialized in pragmatic meaning making and form culturally shared repertoires. Although their study may offer insights into stabilization processes of human expressive modes, research on gestures has largely focused on spontaneously created forms. This project fills this research gap. Based on existing corpora of recurrent gestures and on additional data, different processes of stabilization in gestures will be explored. In a second step, the identified routes of stabilization in gestures will be compared with lexicalization processes and grammaticalization processes in signs of sign language. In doing so, the project concentrates on two hitherto understudied facets of recurrent gestures, i.e., (1) the emergent stabilization of gesture families and (2) the temporal and functional dynamics of stabilized gesture sequences. By addressing these two aspects of recurrent gestures and by comparing them to the evolution and structure of signs, the project formulates 3) a media-specific and cross-modal approach to stabilization processes in gestures and signs defining characteristics that both modalities share and those which are linguistic.