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date: 05 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Interest in “Gesture” in the West is surveyed from Antiquity to the present day. First discussed as a part of rhetoric, from the seventeenth century gesture was seen as a possible universal language and as the form in which language first arose. The expansion of anthropology in the nineteenth century brought accounts of elaborate gesture use in many different cultures, including North America and Australia, where forms of sign language were observed. Sign language among the deaf also began to be studied. In the twentieth century interest in gesture declined, but was revived from about 1980, when it became of interest for cognitive psychology, the study of language acquisition, and for its role in communication in co-present interaction. Gesture study is thought to be relevant for understanding symbolic expression and conceptual processes. Its intimate involvement with speaking has implications for conceptions of language.

Keywords: gesture, sign language, rhetoric, kinesics, paralanguage, cognition, psycholinguistics

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