Vigo International Journal of Applied Linguistics VIAL

Kazuki Sekine (1), Gale Stam (2), Keiko Yoshioka (3), Marion Tellier (4) and Olga Capirci (5). TCross-linguistic Views of Gesture Usage: 91-105.


People have stereotypes about gesture usage. For instance, speakers in East Asia are not supposed to gesticulate, and it is believed that Italians gesticulate more than the British. Despite the prevalence of such views, studies that investigate these stereotypes are scarce. The present study examined peopleÕs views on spontaneous gestures by collecting data from five different countries. A total of 363 undergraduate students from five countries (France, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands and USA) participated in this study. Data were collected through a two-part questionnaire. Part 1 asked participants to rate two characteristics of gesture: frequency and size of gesture for 13 different languages. Part 2 asked them about their views on factors that might affect the production of gestures. The results showed that most participants in this study believe that Italian, Spanish, and American English speakers produce larger gestures more frequently than other language speakers. They also showed that each culture group, even within Europe, put weight on a slightly different aspect of gestures.

Keywords: spontaneous gestures, cross-cultural difference, cross-linguistic difference, perception of gestures

(1) University of Warwick, Coventry, United Kingdom. (2) National Louis University, Skokie, IL, USA. (3) Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands. (4) Aix-Marseille UniversiteŽ LPL, Aix en Provence, France. (5) Istituto di Scienze e Tecnologie della Cognizione (ISTC), Rome, Italy.

Back to Contents of Number 12

Download full text of this article in pdf format