Grain levels in English path curvature descriptions and accompanying iconic gestures


  • Emile van der Zee University of Lincoln
  • Urpo Nikanne Åbo Akademie University
  • Uta Sassenberg Cologne and Free University Berlin


language and space, grain level, English language, iconic gesture, communication


This paper confirms that the English verb system (similar to the Finnish, Dutch, and Bulgarian verb systems) represents path curvature at three different grain levels: neutral path curvature, global path curvature, and local path curvature. We show that the three-grain-level hypothesis makes it possible to formulate constraints on English sentence structure and makes it possible to define constructions in English that refer to path curvature. We furthermore demonstrate in an experiment that the proposed English lexicalization pattern regarding path curvature in tandem with the spatial information shown to English speakers correctly predicts their packaging of grain levels in iconic gestures. We conclude that the data studied confirm Nikanne and Van der Zee's three-grain-level hypothesis in relation to English and Kita and Ozyurek’s interface hypothesis in relation to gesture production.







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