The Gesture

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La beauté du geste ("The Beauty of The Gesture")

Earlier issues. It was a game-changer. Parents are amazed by how fast their children understand how a tablet or smartphone works. This shows that touch and gesture interactions have a lot of potential to make mobile experiences easier and more fun to use. It helped a lot of designers and developers understand the core mobile UI elements and interactions. I will buy you a beer and gladly tweet that you were ahead of your time. When designing for a tiny canvas, we should use every available pixel to focus on the content.

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In this innovative industry, mobile designers need some time to explore how to design more creative and original interfaces. But they are here now.

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Show what gestures do. When you remove pressure, the pop up disappears. Moreover, in Kendon a gesticulation, language-like gestures and pantomimes are not described as alternatives. That last bit there in italics is the difference between a scroll and a pinch. The room was filled with angry people shouting and gesturing.

And while they might be quite extreme and focused on high-brow users and early adopters, they show us the great creative potential of gesture-driven interfaces. Pulling to refresh feels very intuitive. The most important criterion for me is that these interactions feel very intuitive. A great way to start designing a more gesture-driven interface is to use your main screen only as a viewport to the main content.

Rather, consider giving it a place of its own. Speaking in terms of a virtual 2-D or 3-D environment, you could design the navigation somewhere next to, below, behind, in front of, above or hidden on top of the main view. A dragging or swiping gesture is a great way to lead the user to this UI element.

This trending UI concept is very easy to use. Visual Language View all 20 Articles.


The goal of the article is to offer a framework against which relations between gesture and sign can be systematically explored beyond the current literature. It does so by a reconstructing the history of the discussion in the field of gesture studies, focusing on three leading positions Kendon, McNeill, and Goldin-Meadow ; and b by formulating a position to illustrate how this can be achieved.

The paper concludes by emphasizing the need for systematic cross-linguistic research on multimodal use of language in its signed and spoken forms. Throughout the relatively short history of gesture studies, the relation between gesture and sign continues to figure as a central topic.

Before the Word, There Was the Gesture

For sign language studies, the question has politically been a highly delicate one, and it remains a vital issue in contemporary sign language research. Fortunately, today, we are in a position to discuss the relation between gesture and sign against the solid background of sign language studies, leaving no doubts concerning the fundamentally linguistic nature of signed languages Kendon, , , ; Steinbach et al.

Against this background, discussions of the relation between gesture and sign can be very openly reconsidered. Rather than starting with the current positions in that debate, this article offers a historical reconstruction of the discussion of the gesture-sign relation carried out in the field of gesture studies. Why it is useful to look back in close detail? The underlying assumption is that more recent publications are the more knowledgeable and offer the most up to date state of the art of academic research. For the discussion concerning the relation between gesture and sign this is definitely the case.

One goal of this paper is therefore to exemplify that a close reading of the history of a scholarly discussion may not only help evaluate current positions, but indeed may still offer valuable insights, ideas, concepts or analytical criteria to work with. Given the scope of this paper, the focus is on the discussion of the relation between gesture and sign as it was led in the field of gesture studies. Note that what is presented here is a close reading of the writings of Kendon, McNeill, and Goldin-Meadow and also her co-author Diane Brentari. Put differently, it is an analysis of their lines or argumentation as presented in the texts.

It is not a reconstruction of their current opinions. To substantiate this reconstruction, many quotations of the original formulations are included.

The figures in the article are analyses of argumentations as reconstructed by the author. The three types of gestures differ with regard to forms and degrees of conventionalization and with regard to their typical linguistic and communicative functions. Singular gestures are created on the spot; although they are based on a culturally shared repertoire of techniques of gesture creation e. Emblematic gestures are fully conventionalized gestural movements.


These gestural speech-acts can entail vocalizations or sometimes be paralleled by a verbal speech-act sometimes this is the case with insults. Often they are used to replace a spoken language utterance. The three kinds of gestures operate as prototype categories, that is, they are not separated by sharp boundaries, their relations are dynamic. Against this theoretical background, dynamic relations between gesture and sign are discussed.

Such relations concern a historical change from gesture to sign, and b synchronic comparison of spoken and signed languages. The former includes lexicalization processes; the latter involves functional integration of gestures within a signed or spoken utterance multimodal language use , and contact situations between spoken and signed languages e. The paper thus offers a framework against which the relations between gesture and sign can be systematically explored further by reconstructing the history of the discussion in the field of gesture studies and by formulating a position to illustrate how this can be achieved.

The paper concludes by emphasizing the need for systematic cross-linguistic research on the multimodal use of language in its signed and spoken forms. One of the major reasons why this interest continues to motivate contemporary discussions is that the question of how gestures and signs relate to one another promises to provide insights into the nature and the origins of language itself Kendon, , , ; McNeill, , ; Wilcox, Gestures were considered to be part of non-verbal communication, clearly and fundamentally different from language.

Social psychologists Ekman and Friesen had presented a classification of non-verbal behavior, conceiving of hand gestures as illustrators to the stream of speech. Drawing on psycholinguistic evidence Feyereisen , Butterworth and Hadar suggested a fundamental difference between gestures and speech for an overview see Hadar, McNeill countered this position and engaged in a lively controversy with the then prevailing understanding of gesture as unrelated to language McNeill, , , The importance of this discussion for gesture studies cannot be stressed enough.

McNeill prepared the ground for a psychological and linguistic perspective on gesture, and showed that gesture is a highly valuable object of study for both psychologists and linguists. With the advent of Cognitive Science in the s and s, his model of gesture and speech as forming one integrated system opened the doors for linguists to study gesture. What gestures reveal about thought paved the way for gesture studies to emerge as a field.

Kendon also adopted a critical stance toward the idea of gestures as forms of non-verbal communication. Kendon underlined the tight integration of gestures with speech in the process of utterance formation. It is as if the process of utterance has two channels of output into behavior: one by way of speech, the other by way of bodily movement. In the early s, he published a series of papers on a kinesic system, a village sign language, employed by the Enga community in Papua New Guinea.

Those papers offer a minute analysis of the formational properties, the semiotic functioning, and utterance construction of the Enga sign language Kendon, a , b , c. What began with an elaborate analysis of the primary sign language of the Enga in Papua New Guinea led to a broad study of alternate sign languages employed by Central Australian Aboriginal speech communities Kendon, b. Kendon put forward arguments — historical, functional, and material i.

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By taking into account the full spectrum of gestures — including conventional and non-conventionalized kinesic forms — a historical process of sign formation from ad hoc created visual actions comes into view that can be described as a lexicalization process. In this process, gestures change over time, becoming increasingly stable, and may even develop into kinesic words, signs within a signed language.

In these circumstances, where a spoken language is not available to create a context for gestural use, and where propositions must be exchanged as well as acts of interactional regulation, gestural units must be established that can serve, as words do, to refer to units of meaning that can be recombined to create complex signs with specific meanings.

Emblems differ from gesticulation in that they have acquired a fixed-form meaning relation. In linguistic terms, these gestures are lexicalized.

How to implement gestures into your mobile design

Over the course of the story the pantomime becomes reduced and abstracted to a hand motion. Note that arbitrariness is considered to be an outcome of a historical process of change. Kendon describes the phases of historical development as a path of transition that a spontaneously created gesture gesticulation, singular gesture may undergo on its way to an arbitrary sign see Figure 2. Kendon not only points out that his view of the transitional process is grounded in his work on alternate and primary sign languages mentioned above, but also says, with reference to Klima and Bellugi , chapters 1 and 3 , Bellugi and Newkirk , and Kyle and Woll that similar processes have been described in sign language studies many times before.

Wilcox , describes routes from gestures to signed language with reference to American, Catalan, French, and Italian Sign Languages and with reference to historical documentations of gesture in the Mediterranean region. Several overviews of grammaticalization in sign languages have been offered Wilcox et al.

Already in that brief a book chapter, Kendon brings in a second line of argumentation concerning the relation between gesture and sign: functional commonalities between gestures and words in spoken languages. From the point of view of communicative function, gestures can be used like words. This applies to all gestural forms, be they spontaneously created, holistic ones, or emblematic ones.

follow Kendon already argues that gestures may be integrated in the vocal utterance, and then take over the function of a word. Chapter 11 shows different forms of pointing gestures and how they work in conjunction with speech. Chapters 12 and 13 then discuss semiotic motivation and contexts of use of gestures with pragmatic functions and how they form gesture families.

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For all kinds of gestures, close analyses of their integration into the verbal utterance are given.