Motion event expressions in language and gesture: Evidence from Persian


How do people conceptualize motion events and talk about them? The current study examines how gestural representations of motion events arise from linguistic expressions in Persian, which has characteristics of both Talmy’s satellite- and verb-framed languages. We examined native Persian speakers’ speech and gestures in describing 20 motion events. We focused on two motion event components: path (trajectory of motion like up) and manner (how the action is performed like jumping). Results indicated that when expressing motion, Persian speakers produced path in both speech and gesture, whereas manner was conveyed only through speech (mostly as adverbs). Additionally, dynamic gestures tended to occur in the same order they were uttered. The difference between path and manner findings asks for further research to examine language-gesture interaction in detail among different languages. Results also suggest refinement in gesture theories that argue for one-to-one correspondence between speech and gesture.

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