Transfer in gesture: L2 placement event descriptions

AbstractThere are cross-linguistics differences in the type of verb used to describe placement events. Dutch uses semantically specific placement verbs (zetten, leggen), whereas English uses a semantically general placement verb (put). This semantic focus is reflected in speaker’s gestures, which can be specific and object-focused by showing object-incorporating handshapes, or not. This study investigates the semantic placement event focus of Dutch L2 speakers of English, by investigating verb use and gesture production in placement event descriptions. Results showed that placement verb production was native-like, with a majority correct usage of put. However, gesture production showed many object-incorporating handshapes, similar to L1 Dutch gesture production. These results suggest that although the Dutch L2 speakers of English sounded native-like in speech, they were still trying to express Dutch-like placement verb meaning, by showing a continued focus on the object, as expressed in their gesture production.

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