Gesture Analysis

Winter term 2018/2019
Wednesday, 16:45-18:15 in Collegium Novum A 613
30 contact hours (1 class a week)
ECTS credits: 6 (for “egzamin”)
Lecturer: Ewa Jarmołowicz-Nowikow
Module: Methods and Applications

Course description

Face-to-face communication is by nature multimodal – people communicate via more than one modality: e.g. oral–auditory and manual–visual. That is why to understand how people communicate we need to analyse the interplay between the modalities and the way in which they support communication.
The aim of the course is to provide students with basic knowledge about the study of gestures and make them acquire practical skills for their analysis. During the course we will focus on the nonverbal aspects of communication, especially hand gestures. Students will learn about the gesture structure, character of the gesture, classifying gestures, speech-gesture acquisition, gesture and speech in interaction, and intercultural differences concerning form and usage of nonverbal behaviours. An important part of the lecture will be the practical analysis of recorded conversations. Students will acquire methods of gesture transcription and gesture analysis. During gesture analysis, ELAN will be used as the tool for the annotation of the video and audio resources. The analysis will be done on tv materials as well as on videos recorded by the students.

Assessment criteria
Final grade will be based on: 1. student’s activity in the class (all exercises have to be performed and delivered), 2. student’ s annotation project.

Detailed course program

1st week. Gesture as an element of multimodal communication. History of gesture studies.

2nd week. Basic information about the usage of ELAN (tool for gesture and speech annotation). Creating a new document, creating and modifying annotations, creating and using templates.

3rd week. Gesture units, gesture phrases, gesture phases. Video analysis: annotation of gesture structure.

4th week. Examples of gesture classifications. Kendon’s continuum. Video analysis: distinguishing categories of gestures.

5th week. Functions of gestures: referential, pragmatic (modal, performative, parsing) and interpersonal. Video analysis: description of gesture function.

6th week. Self-organization of gesture and speech. Video analysis: describing different relations between speech and a co-occurring gesture.

7th week. Intentionality of the gesture realisation. Video analysis: Behavioural cues of communicative intentionality of pointing gestures in dialogues.

8th week. Cultural similarities and differences in emblematic gestures. Cataloguing and comparing emblematic gestures from different cultures.

9th week. Form and function of iconic gestures.

10th week. Recurrent gestures. Video analysis: identifying certain forms of recurrent gestures and their functions.

11th week. Gestures and multimodal development. Video analysis: comparing gestures of children and adults narrating the cartoon.

12th week. Pointing gestures and ontogenesis of speech. Video analysis: annotation of different forms and functions of pointing gestures realized by children in preverbal period.

13th week. Pointing gesture from the intercultural perspective. Index finger extended or open palm – the type of referent (person or object) as a determinant of pointing gesture form.

14th week. Do we pay attention to interlocutor’ gestures? Exercise with TOBII (eye tracking glasses).

15th week. Presentation of students’ projects. Summary of the course.


Bavelas, J., Gerwing, J., Sutton, C. i Prevost, D. (2008). Gesturing on the telephone: Independent effects of dialogue and visibility. Journal of Memory and Language, 58(2), strony 495-520.

Bavelas, J., Kenwood, C., Johnson, T. i Phillips, B. (2002). An experimental study of when and how speakers use gestures to communicate. Gesture, 2(1), strony 1-17.

Ekman, P. &. (1969). The repertoire of nonverbal behavior: Categories, origins, usage, and coding. emiotica, 1(1), strony 49-98.

Goldin-Meadow, S. i Butcher, C. (2003). Pointing toward two-word speech in young children. W S. Kita, Pointing: Where language, culture, and cognition meet (strony 85-107). Psychology Press.

Iverson, J. M. i Goldin-Meadow, S. (1998). Why people gesture when they speak. Nature, 396(6708), str. 228.

Iverson, J. M. i Goldin-Meadow, S. (2005). Gesture paves the way for language development. Psychological science, 16(5), strony 367-371.

Kendon, A. (2005). Gesture. Visible Action as Utterance (wyd. wydanie drugie). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kita, S. i Essegbey, J. (2001). Pointing left in Ghana: How a taboo on the use of the left hand influences gestural practice. Gesture, 1(1), strony 73-95.

McNeill, D. (1992). Hand and mind: What gestures reveal about thought. Chicago, London: University of Chicago Press.

McNeill, D. (2005). Gesture and Thought. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.