Mojenn Schubert

On the adaptability of pointing gestures in social interaction

Universität Mannheim
Prof. Dr. Arnulf Deppermann

My PhD project focuses on the adaptability of pointing gestures in naturally occurring German conversations. In general, I am interested in the interactional sensitivity and functionality of how a gesture is produced in situ. I will examine pointing gestures as an exemplary example to demonstrate the importance of such details in the use of an embodied resource. For my cumulative thesis, I am exploring three phenomena in more detail: (1) What does the trajectory of the gesture's production (the temporal unfolding of its preparation, stroke and retraction) contribute to the local interaction at hand? To investigate this, I will study prolonged pointing gestures that extend beyond a possible point of transition relevance (TRP) after Questions and Instructions. (2) What do participants index when they are pointing at co-participants? For this study, I´m analysing moments in which an interlocutor points at a previous speaker in order to resume to an earlier topic or to make relevant some other shared knowledge that is part of their personal common ground. (3) Does the kinesic flexibility of pointing reflect or complement the meaning components that are expressed through speech? This third paper will focus on expanded referential practices that facilitate the integration of iconic elements into the co-occurring pointing gesture. As a data basis, I draw on video recordings from the corpus FOLK (Research and Teaching Corpus of Spoken German, IDS Mannheim).