Pantomime (Not Silent Gesture) in Multimodal Communication: Evidence From Children’s Narratives

Marentette, Paula, Furman, Reyhan orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-6034-3820, Suvanto, Marcus and Nicoladis, Elena (2020) Pantomime (Not Silent Gesture) in Multimodal Communication: Evidence From Children’s Narratives. Frontiers in Psychology, section Cognition, 11 (575952).

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Pantomime has long been considered distinct from co-speech gesture. It has therefore been argued that pantomime cannot be part of gesture-speech integration. We examine pantomime as distinct from silent gesture, focusing on non-co-speech gestures that occur in the midst of children’s spoken narratives. We propose that gestures with features of pantomime are an infrequent but meaningful component of a multimodal communicative strategy. We examined spontaneous non-co-speech representational gesture production in the narratives of 30 monolingual English-speaking children between the ages of 8- and 11-years. We compared the use of co-speech and non-co-speech gestures in both autobiographical and fictional narratives and examined viewpoint and the use of non-manual articulators, as well as the length of responses and narrative quality. The use of non-co-speech gestures was associated with longer narratives of equal or higher quality than those using only co-speech gestures. Non-co-speech gestures were most likely to adopt character-viewpoint and use non-manual articulators. The present study supports a deeper understanding of the term pantomime and its multimodal use by children in the integration of speech and gesture.

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