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Why We Gesture
The Surprising Role of Hand Movements in Communication


  • Date Published: December 2015
  • availability: Temporarily unavailable - available from TBC
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107137189

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About the Authors
  • Gestures are fundamental to the way we communicate, yet our understanding of this communicative impulse is clouded by a number of ingrained assumptions. Are gestures merely ornamentation to speech? Are they simply an 'add-on' to spoken language? Why do we gesture? These and other questions are addressed in this fascinating book. McNeill explains that the common view of language and gesture as separate entities is misinformed: language is inseparable from gesture. There is gesture-speech unity. Containing over 100 illustrations, Why We Gesture provides visual evidence to support the book's central argument that gestures orchestrate speech. This compelling book will be welcomed by students and researchers working in linguistics, psychology and communication.

    • Proposes a new theory of language and gesture
    • Synthesizes twenty-five years of research
    • Counters the cliché that gestures are ornaments and extras
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'David McNeill explores and extends his life's work, the study of the gesture/language system - our unique, human, expressive being - in this exhilarating, challenging, masterly tour-de-force.' Jonathan Cole

    'David McNeill, quite simply, has fundamentally changed how we think about human bodily communication, particularly hand gesture. His views are immensely influential. He tackles the major theoretical questions in this area with great courage and conviction, and his precise arguments really do define the field.' Geoff Beattie, Edge Hill University

    'David McNeill's decades of groundbreaking work on gesture have transformed the study of language. This book presents penetrating new insights into the embodied nature of utterance formation.' Elena Levy, University of Connecticut

    'This extraordinary volume synthesises McNeill's trailblazing work on the links between gesture, speech, and language in mind and brain, in interaction, evolution, and development. It is engaging, compelling, and indispensable.' Marianne Gullberg

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2015
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107137189
    • length: 221 pages
    • dimensions: 234 x 155 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.48kg
    • contains: 118 b/w illus. 11 tables
    • availability: Temporarily unavailable - available from TBC
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Gesture-Orchestrated Speech:
    1. Why we gesture
    2. The growth point
    3. New form of human action
    4. Orchestration and unpacking
    5. Mimicry and metaphor
    Part II. Phylogenesis, Ontogenesis, Brain:
    6. Phylogenesis
    7. Ontogenesis
    8. Brain
    Part III. The Last Page:
    9. Why we gesture (again).

  • Author

    David McNeill, University of Chicago
    David McNeill has taught at the University of Michigan, Harvard University, Duke University, and the University of Chicago, where he is now an Emeritus Professor.

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