Articulatory gestures

Articulatory gestures

Articulatory gestures are the actions necessary to enunciate language. Examples of articulatory gestures are the hand movements necessary to enunciate sign language and the mouth movements of speech. In semiotic terms, they are the physical embodiment (signifiers) of speech signs, which are gestural by nature (see below).

The definition of "gesture" varies greatly, but here it will be taken in its widest sense, namely, any meaningful action. An intentional action is meaningful if it is not strictly utilitarian: for example, sending flowers to a friend is a gesture, because this action is performed not only for the purpose of moving flowers from one place to another, but also to express some sentiment or even a conventional message in the language of flowers. Use of the broadest definition of gesture (not restricted to hand movements) allows Hockett’s “rapid fading” design feature of human language to be accommodated as a type of sign in semiotic theory.

But if an articulatory gesture is to be considered a true gesture in the above sense, it must be meaningful. Therefore an articulatory gesture must be at least as large as the smallest meaningful unit of language, the morpheme. A morpheme corresponds roughly to a spoken word or a sign language gesture.

This definition differs from the practice, common among linguists, of referring to phonemes (meaningless mouth movements) as articulatory gestures (see articulatory phonology). In semiotics, meaningless components of spoken gestures (written as individual letters), or meaningless components of sign language gestures (such as location of hand contact) are known as figurae, the constituents of signs.

It also differs from the tradition of considering speech sounds to be the signifiers of speech signs. But this practice confuses signals with symbols. Sound and light are analogue signals, whereas mouth and hand gestures are discrete symbolic entities. A sound or light signal is subject to random noise, whereas the image of the gesture is subject to regular distortion, as when a signer’s hand is viewed from different angles. In speech, the sound of the contact of the tongue in the letter T can be distorted by surrounding mouth movements, as in the phrase “perfect memory”. When pronounced at conversational speed, the sound of the tongue contact is completely obscured by surrounding consonants even though this T movement is fully carried out.

Articulatory gestures, when seen as the physical embodiment of speech and sign language symbols, provide a link between these two language types, and show how speech resembles sign language more closely than is generally presumed.

References and further reading

* Eccardt, Thomas. (2006). "The case for articulatory gestures -- not sounds -- as the physical embodiment of speech signs." In Joseph Davis, Radmila J. Gorup and Nancy Stern. "Advances in Functional Linguistics: Columbia School beyond its Origins." Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

* Hockett, Charles. (1960). "Logical Considerations in the Study of Animal Communication." In W. Lanyon and W. Tavogla (eds.), "Animal Sounds and Communication." Washington, D.C.: American Institute of Biological Sciences

ee also

*Language production
*Linguistic performance

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Articulatory phonology — [] [ 96/mt post.html] is a linguistic theory originally proposed in 1986 by Catherine Browman [] of… …   Wikipedia

  • List of gestures — Further information: Gesture People often use gestures during heated or tense arguments, such as at this political demonstration. Gestures are a form of nonverbal communication in which visible bodily actio …   Wikipedia

  • Chinese number gestures — are a method of using one hand to signify the natural numbers one through ten. This method may have been developed to bridge the many varieties of Chinese for example, the numbers 4 (Chinese: 四; pinyin: sì) and 10 (Chinese: 十; pinyin: shí) are… …   Wikipedia

  • Speech perception — is the process by which the sounds of language are heard, interpreted and understood. The study of speech perception is closely linked to the fields of phonetics and phonology in linguistics and cognitive psychology and perception in psychology.… …   Wikipedia

  • Acoustic landmarks and distinctive features — Kenneth N. Stevens and his colleagues at MIT proposed a model of speech perception that is called acoustic landmarks and distinctive features .In this model, the incoming acoustic signal is believed to be first processed to determine the so alled …   Wikipedia

  • Speech repetition — Children copy with their own mouths the words spoken by the mouths of those around them. This enables them to learn the pronunciation of words not already in their vocabulary. Speech repetition is the saying by one individual of the spoken… …   Wikipedia

  • Catherine Browman — Catherine P. Browman [] is an American linguist and speech scientist. She was a research scientist at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey and Haskins Laboratories in New Haven, Connecticut, from which she …   Wikipedia

  • Mudra — This article is about the use of mudrā in Indic religion. For mudra as used in Indian classical music, see Mudra (music). Bharatnatyam dancer portraying Hindu goddess Lakshmi with her characteristic mudrās A mudrā (English: /muːˈdrɑː/ ( …   Wikipedia

  • Salute — This article is about the gesture. For other uses, see Salute (disambiguation). A salute is a gesture or other action used to display respect. Salutes are primarily associated with armed forces, but other organizations and civil people also use… …   Wikipedia

  • Rock-paper-scissors — Roshambo redirects here. For the phonetically similar name and terms derived from it, see Rochambeau (disambiguation). For the bullying practice, see sack tapping. Rock paper scissors Rock paper scissors chart Years active Chinese Han Dynasty to… …   Wikipedia