Gesture days

The 3rd and 4th of July were used to look at initial data recordings and trial transcripts. The focus was on the visual modality, i.e. gestures, gaze, facial displays.

For this occasion we invited a specialist in gesture research, Gaëlle Ferré from Nantes (

The underlying material for a CA-style data-session (CA = Conversation Analysis) were taken from an extract of the CID corpus and three extracts of the pilot recordings of the new Maptask corpus. Two with each participant being the director or the recipient of the map. And one part of free conversation. With other researchers from the Project the following was points have been discussed and decisions were taken.

The data-session was used to make initial observations on how the interacting participants made use of gestures to achieve what we call “feedback”. The focus was: regularities, sequential organisation, participant’s orientation, feedback as social action. The usefulness of CA procedures on the way to a description of feedback according to phonetic resources, such as Prosody, Gesture, Lexical content, etc. was discussed. This resembles an Interactional Phonetics approach (cf. research by John Local, Richard Ogden, Bill Wells and many others).

The annotation of gestures was discussed with respect to the minimum amount of detail needed in order to explain the interactional processes, and the maximum amount of detail in order to achieve statistical power.

One important aspect is also to avoid the risk of circularity in using the annotated gestures for the classification of communicative functions of feedback. The information given with the classification guidelines may not be used in the subsequent analysis of the annotation results in relation with the communicative functions.

Another important point is the annotation and analysis of gaze. What kinds o gaze should be distinguished? Are mid-distance gaze and gaze-to-participant sufficient? What is gaze and what is facial display. E.g. are closed eyes part of the one or the other?


Post-Doctoral Researcher at Aix-Marseille Université, Laboratoire Parole et Langage.

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