Description: Okay here’s a question, what would you expect if you ran a study looking at the hand gestures made by speakers of several languages? Would you expect their gestures to be similar? Probably. Why might that be? Now imagine that are going to include in the study a number of people from each language community who been blind since birth but who are speaking the language of the community. What would you expect their hand gestures to look like? Once you’ve answered these questions read the article linked below which describes a study very much like the one I proposed that you think about.
Source: Seeing Isn’t Required to Gesture like a Native Speaker, Association for Psychological Science.
Date: March 21, 2016
Photo Credit: Association for Psychological Science
So were you surprised by the results of the study? Think carefully about the relationship between hand gestures and language and the relationship between language and culture. Language is not simply a generic form of communication but rather a way of organizing and expressing one’s understanding of the world, and understanding that is shared within linguistic and cultural communities. Maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that the gestures of congenitally blind individuals are similar to the expressive gestures of cited members of their linguistic community.
Questions for Discussion:
- How did the researchers go about collecting samples of the gestures used by speakers of various things to communities?
- Does the relationship between simply being a member of the linguistic/cultural community and one’s language as well as one’s hand gestures make sense to you?
- Can you think of any other ways in which this relationship might’ve been investigated?
References (Read Further):
Özçalışkan, Ş., Lucero, C., & Goldin-Meadow, S. (2016). Is Seeing Gesture Necessary to Gesture Like a Native Speaker?. Psychological science.