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Authors: Esposito, A.* 
Esposito, A. M.* 
Title: On Speech and Gestures Synchrony
Issue Date: 2011
ISBN: 978-3-642-25774-2
Keywords: Speech pauses, holds, synchrony, child narrations
Subject Classification05. General::05.09. Miscellaneous::05.09.99. General or miscellaneous 
Abstract: Previous research works proved the existence of a synchronization between speech and holds in adults and in 9 year old children with a rich linguistic vocabulary and advanced language skills. When and how does this synchrony develop during child language acquisition? Could it be observed also in children younger than 9? The present work aims to answer the above questions reporting on the analysis of narrations produced by three different age groups of Italian children (9, 5 and 3 year olds). Measurements are provided on the amount of synchronization between speech pauses and holds in the three different groups, as a function of the duration of the narrations. The results show that, as far as the reported data concerns, in children, as in adults, holds and speech pauses are to a certain extent synchronized and play similar functions, suggesting that they may be considered as a multi-determined phenomenon exploited by the speaker under the guidance of a unified planning process to satisfy a communicative intention. In addition, considering the role that speech pauses play in communication, we speculate on the possibility that holds may serve to similar purposes supporting the hypothesis that gestures as speech are an expressive resource that can take on different functions depending on the communicative demand. While speech pauses are likely to play the role of signalling mental activation processes aimed at replacing the “old spoken content” of the communicative plan with a new one, holds may signal mental activation processes aimed at replacing the “old visible bodily action” with new ones reflecting the representational and/or propositional contribution of gestures to the new communicative plan.
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