Does Language Shape the Production and Perception of Gestures?A Study on late Chinese-English Bilinguals’ Conceptions about Time

Yan GuTilburg center for Cognition and Communication (TiCC), Tilburg University, the Netherlands
Lisette MolTilburg center for Cognition and Communication (TiCC), Tilburg University, the Netherlands
Marieke HoetjesTilburg center for Cognition and Communication (TiCC), Tilburg University, the Netherlands
Marc SwertsTilburg center for Cognition and Communication (TiCC), Tilburg University, the Netherlands

Abstract

Does language influence the production and perception of gestures? The metaphorical use of language in representing time is deeply interlinked with actions in space, such as gestures. In Chinese, speakers can talk and gesture about time as if it were horizontal, sagittal, or vertical. In English, speakers rarely employ the vertical plane. Two experiments showed that the verbal use of vertical spatial metaphors had an online influence on the production and perception of gestures by late Chinese-English bilinguals. Participants produced more vertical gestures when talking about time references by use of vertical spatial metaphors, e.g. ‘shàng-zhōu’ (literally: ‘above week’, meaning ‘last week’), and they preferred vertical gestures to horizontal gestures when perceiving time references with vertical spatial metaphors. Gestures are not only shaped by the language specific conceptualisation, but are also sensitive to the changes in linguistic choices, both in production and perception.

Files

Does Language Shape the Production and Perception of Gestures?A Study on late Chinese-English Bilinguals’ Conceptions about Time (328 KB)



Back to Table of Contents