Gesture is integral to human language. Its function within human
communication is as much goal-directed, and subsequently as
communicative, as is speech. Indeed, gesture and speech share the
same cognitive, psychological and physiological roots. Although the
study of gesture has reached maturity as a branch of scholarship
which endorses a multidisciplinary approach to communication, and
is now integral to many of the sciences (psychology,
psycholinguistics and ethnology, among others), little attention
has been paid in recent years to the phenomena involved - the
communicative function of gesture in particular - from a strictly
linguistic point of view. This book exploits a number of
methodological instruments from the study of linguistics to restore
gesture to its original position of importance within the field.
The data presented here are analyzed as pieces of information that
describe behavior, but which are also an integral part of the more
complex phenomenon of human communication. Evidence is provided by
means of experiments on hearing and deaf subjects, in addition to a
review of the major findings about the use and function of gesture
in situations of handicap, such as aphasia and blindness. The ideas
proposed here are a result of the author's long study and
speculation on the role of gesture, both in communicative acts and
with respect to language.
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