chapter  3
Gesture
ByJürgen Streeck
Pages 17

Setting aside its use in music, architecture, poetry, and visual art, the term ‘gesture’ is used in a number of interrelated ways:

(a) each muscular act, which may or may not be a component of a more complex muscular act, can be called a gesture: reaching for a glass is a gesture; the articulation of a language sound is an organized bundle of articulatory gestures (Browman & Goldstein 1990); a bounded intonation contour is a gesture. Gestures are the basic units of bodily action;

(b) a gesture is a discrete bodily act by which some social meaning is conveyed: bowing the head, winking, nodding;

(c) a gesture is any act that conveys social meanings of the kind body gestures also convey, i.e., showing deference or respect, recognition, or gratitude: giving flowers, sending a thank you note, forgiving a debt. It is a way of comporting oneself (cf. Latin gerere, to behave);

(d) a gesture is a communicative movement of the hand.