Rethinking gesture phases: Articulatory features of gestural movement?

Jana Bressem 1  and Silva H. Ladewig 1
  • 1 Research assistant at European University Viadrina.


This paper presents a proposal for the description of gesture phases derived from articulatory characteristics observable in their execution. Based on the results of an explorative study examining the execution of gesture phases of ten German speakers, the paper presents two sets of articulatory features, i.e., distinctive and additional features by which gesture phases are characterized from a context-independent and context-sensitive point of view. It will be shown that gesture phases show a particular distribution of the features, thus distinguishing one phase from another. Furthermore, changes in the execution of phases in linear successions can be described by means of features. Contrary to other accounts, whose focus on gesture phases is primarily in relation to speech and/or adjacent phases, this proposal concentrates on the visible physical characteristics of gesture phases.

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The official journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies, founded in 1969 as one of the first scholarly journals in the field, Semiotica features articles reporting results of research in all branches of semiotic studies, in-depth reviews of selected current literature in the field, and occasional guest editorials and reports. The journal also publishes occasional Special Issues devoted to topics of particular interest.