Thinking, speaking, and gesturing about motion in more than one language

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


A key problem in studies of bilingual linguistic cognition is how to probe the details of underlying representations in order to gauge whether bilinguals' conceptualizations differ from those of monolinguals, and if so how. This chapter provides an overview of a line of studies that rely on speech-associated gestures to explore these issues. The gestures of adult monolingual native speakers differ systematically across languages, reflecting consistent differences in what information is selected for expression and how it is mapped onto morphosyntactic devices. Given such differences, gestures can provide more detailed information on how multilingual speakers conceptualize events treated differently in their respective languages, and therefore, ultimately, on the nature of their representations. This chapter reviews a series of studies in the domain of (voluntary and caused) motion event construal. I first discuss speech and gesture evidence for different construals in monolingual native speakers, then review studies on second language speakers showing gestural evidence of persistent L1 construals, shifts to L2 construals, and of bidirectional influences. The chapter discusses the implications for theories of ultimate attainment in SLA, transfer and convergence as well as methodological implications, namely what gesture data do and do not reveal about linguistic conceptualisation and linguistic relativity proper.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThinking and speaking in two languages
EditorsAneta Pavlenko
PublisherMultilingual Matters
ISBN (Print)978-1-84769-336-5
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Bibliographical note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015.
The record was previously connected to the following departments: Linguistics and Phonetics (015010003)

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics


  • event representation
  • second langauge acquisition
  • bilingualism
  • gesture
  • motion events


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