From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A gesture is a form of non-verbal communication in which visible bodily actions communicate particular messages, either in place of speech or together and in parallel with spoken words. Gestures include movement of the hands, face, or other parts of the body. Gestures differ from physical non-verbal communication that does not communicate specific messages, such as purely expressive displays, proxemics, or displays of joint attention. Gestures allow individuals to communicate a variety of feelings and thoughts, from contempt and hostility to approval and affection, often together with body language in addition to words when they speak.
Studies of gesture
Gestures have been studied throughout the centuries from different view points. Quintillian in the antiquity studied in his Institution Oratoria how gesture may be used in rhetorical discourse. Another broad study of gesture was published by John Bulwer in 1644. Bulwer analyzed dozens of gestures and provided a guide on how to use gestures to increase eloquence and clarity for public speaking. Andrea De Jorio published an extensive account of gestural expression in 1832. Today, one of the most prominent researchers in the field of gesture research is Adam Kendon. He has investigated many aspects of gestures, including their role in communication, conventionalization of gesture, integration of gesture and speech, and the evolution of language. Other prominent researchers in this field include Susan Goldin-Meadow and David McNeill. Susan Goldin-Meadow (2003) has intensively investigated the role of gesture in problem solving in children. David McNeill (1992, 2006) has developed a broad theory about how gesture and speech are part of a single thought process.
Categories of gestures
Although the study of gesture is still in its infancy, some broad categories of gestures have been identified by researchers. The most familiar are the so-called emblems or quotable gestures. These are conventional, culture-specific gestures that can be used as replacement for words, such as the handwave used in the US for "hello" and "goodbye". A single emblematic gesture can a have very different significance in different cultural contexts, ranging from complimentary to highly offensive  The page List of gestures discusses emblematic gestures made with one hand, two hands, hand and other body parts, and body and facial gestures.
Another broad category of gestures comprises those gestures used spontaneously when we speak. These gestures are closely coordinated with speech. The so-called beat gestures are used in conjunction with speech and keep time with the rhythm of speech to emphasize certain words or phrases. These types of gestures are integrally connected to speech and thought processes. Other spontaneous gestures used when we speak are more contentful and may echo or elaborate the meaning of the co-occurring speech. For example, a gesture that depicts the act of throwing may be synchronous with the utterance, "He threw the ball right into the window." 
Gestural languages such as American Sign Language and its regional siblings operate as complete natural languages that are gestural in modality. They should not be confused with finger spelling, in which a set of emblematic gestures are used to represent a written alphabet.
Many animals, including humans, use gestures to initiate a mating ritual. This may include elaborate dances and other movements. Gestures play a major role in many aspects of human life. Gesturing is probably a universal; there has been no report of a community that does not gesture. Gestures are a crucial part of everyday conversation such as chatting, describing a route, negotiating prices on a market; they are ubiquitous. Gestures have been documented in the arts such as in Greek vase paintings, Indian Miniatures or European paintings.
Gestures play a central role in religious or spiritual rituals such as the Christian sign of the cross. In Hinduism and Buddhism, a mudra (Sanskrit, literally "seal") is a symbolic gesture made with the hand or fingers. Each mudra has a specific meaning, playing a central role in Hindu and Buddhist iconography. An example is the Vitarka mudra, the gesture of discussion and transmission of Buddhist teaching. It is done by joining the tips of the thumb and the index together, while keeping the other fingers straight.
Gestures are processed in the same areas of the brain as speech and sign language such as the left inferior frontal gyrus (Broca's area) and the posterior middle temporal gyrus, posterior superior temporal sulcus and superior temporal gyrus (Wernicke's area). It has been suggested that these parts of the brain originally supporting the pairing of gesture and meaning and then were adapted in human evolution "for the comparable pairing of sound and meaning as voluntary control over the vocal apparatus was established and spoken language evolved". As a result, it underlies both symbolic gesture and spoken language in the present human brain. Their common neurological basis also supports the idea that symbolic gesture and spoken language are two parts of a single fundamental semiotic system that underlies human discourse.
- ^ Kendon, Adam. (2004) Gesture: Visible Action as Utterance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-83525-9
- ^ a b c Xu J, Gannon PJ, Emmorey K, Smith JF, Braun AR. (2009). Symbolic gestures and spoken language are processed by a common neural system. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 106:20664–20669. doi:1073/pnas.0909197106 PMID 19923436
- ^ Kendon, A. (1982). The study of gesture: Some observations on its history. Recherches Sémiotiques/Semiotic Inquiry 2 (1)
- ^ Bulwer, John (1644). "Chirologia: or the Naturall Language of the Hand" (London,1644)
- ^ de Jorio, Andrea, Gesture in Naples and Gesture in Classical Antiquity. Indiana University Press
- ^ Kendon (2004). Gesture: Visible Action as Utterance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
- ^ Goldin-Meadow, Susan (2003). Hearing gesture: How our hands help us think. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press
- ^ # McNeill, David (1992). Hand and Mind. What Gestures Reveal about Thought. Chicago: Chicago University Press. McNeill, David (2005). Gesture and Thought. Chicago: Chicago University Press
- ^ Morris, Desmond, Collett, Peter, Marsh, Peter, O'Shaughnessy, Marie. 1979. Gestures, their origins and distribution. London. Cape
- ^ a b c McNeill (1992). Hand and Mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
- Bulwer, John (1644). "Chirologia: or the Naturall Language of the Hand" (London,1644)
- Goldin-Meadow, Susan (2003). The resilience of language: What gesture creation in deaf children can tell us about how all children learn language. In the Essays in Developmental Psychologyseries (J. Werker & H. Wellman, Eds.). New York: Psychology Press.
- Goldin-Meadow, Susan (2003). Hearing gesture: How our hands help us think. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
- Johns, C. (1982). Sex or Symbol. Erotic Images of Greece and Rome. London: British Museum Publications.
- Kendon, Adam (ed.) (1981). Nonverbal Communication, Interaction and Gesture: Selections from Semiotica (Vol.41, Approaches to Semiotics). The Hague: Mouton and Co. [Includes as an Introduction by Kendon an extended critical survey of methodological and theoretical issues in the field].
- Kendon, Adam (1997). Annual Review of Anthropology. 26: 109-128.
- Kendon, Adam (2000). Gesture in Naples and Gesture in Classical Antiquity. An English translation, with an Introductory Essay and Notes of La mimica degli antichi investigata nel gestire Napoletano ('Gestural expression of the ancients in the light of neapolitan gesturing') by Andrea de Jorio (1832). Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press.
- Kendon, Adam (2004). Gesture: Visible Action as Utterance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Kita, S. (ed.) (2003). Pointing: Where Language, Culture and Cognition Meet. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, ISBN 0-8058-4014-1.
- McNeill, David (1992). Hand and Mind. What Gestures Reveal about Thought. Chicago: Chicago University Press.
- McNeill, David (2005). Gesture and Thought. Chicago: Chicago University Press.
- International Society for Gesture Studies (ISGS) is an international scholarly association devoted to the study of human gesture. The ISGS organizes conferences and supports the Journal GESTURE.
- McNeill Lab Center for Gesture and Speech Research David McNeill's Lab homepage: The Center for Gesture and Speech Research at the University of Chicago studies speech and gesture from a psycholinguistic perspective. The page provides lots of useful information about gesture analysis.
- The Goldin-Meadow Lab at the University of Chicago studies non-verbal communication and gestures.
/Gesture.html The Nijmegen Gesture Center] (NGC) at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics studies the role of gestures in psycholinguistic processing, communication and interaction, acquisition, cognition, and neurocognition.
- Publications by Adam Kendon (field data, research techniques and theory of gesture and sign languages)
- A Nice Gesture Many stories and anecdotes on gestures.
- A Repertoire of South African Quotable Gestures, Journal of Linguistic Anthropology.
- Handspeak Sign languages, gestures, body languages, Baby Sign, International Sign, and more. Paid site with limited content for free.