Silence gestures revisited
This paper revives an interest in a gestural phenomenon: silence gestures, that is, cases where speakers suspend talk and produce a gesture in momentary silence. Earlier research noted this phenomenon, but largely left interactional details unaddressed. Consequently, we have known of the phenomenon for a long time, but known very little about how interactants use it. This study applies conversation analysis to elucidate silence gestures as they appear during naturally occurring Danish interaction. Two classes are considered: i) silence gestures that occur during word search processes and ii) ‘no-problem’ silence gestures. Analysis of the first class offers more nuances to previous assumptions about its affiliation with process difficulties and turn-taking dynamics. Analysis of the second class disconfirms the belief that silence gestures foremost relate to speech difficulties. It reveals that speakers actively postpone or suspend speech production to achieve a turn-intra pauses, which enables them to momentarily foreground the gestural act.
- Silence gestures during word searches
- Gestures during ‘no trouble silences’
- Suspending talk -> gesture
- Gestural preparation -> suspending talk -> gesture
- Postponing talk -> gesture
- Concluding remarks