Connecting discourse in speech and gesture

The Joint Faculties of Humanities and Theology | Lund University

General information


An extensive body of work has demonstrated that to construct meaning in discourse, speakers must arrange words morphosyntactically and according to pragmatic and discourse principles, such as emphasizing relevant topics, marking transitions between information, indicating one’s own view about what is being said, clarifying the information status of information, etc. To achieve this, speakers use a range of linguistic cohesive devices (e.g., referring expressions such as the doctor, she; connectives such as because). In addition, gestures have also been shown to play an important role in discourse management. For example, gestures are systematically associated with referential expressions such that their presence depends on the referent's information status. Moreover, at a meta-discursive level, gestures can express pragmatic meaning, such as expressing the illocutionary force of the utterance (e.g., the so-called mano a borsa or finger bunch (a gesture in which all fingers are extended and held together so that they are in contact with one another at their tips) is used in some discursive contexts to express an unspoken question). However, several issues remain unclear about how speech and gesture are deployed together as cohesive devices in connected discourse.

The aim of the workshop is therefore to promote a discussion about the interplay between speech and gesture in discourse construction, by bringing together scholars working on speech and/or gesture as cohesive devices from different perspectives.


Maria Graziano, Lund University Humanities Lab

Emanuela Campisi, Lund University Humanities Lab & Università degli di Catania, Italy

Marianne Gullberg, Centre for languages and Literature & Lund University Humanities Lab


Birgit Rausing Language Programme