David Mcneill

David Mcneill
University of Chicago | UC · Departments of Psychology and Linguistics

Ph.D.

About

159
Publications
113,532
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13,822
Citations
Additional affiliations
June 1973 - June 1975
Institute for Advanced Study
Position
  • Member
Description
  • Research institute
June 1967 - June 1969
Harvard University
Position
  • Visiting Associate Professor
June 1955 - June 1962
University of California, Berkeley
Position
  • Research Assistant

Publications

Publications (159)
Chapter
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Preprint
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Letter to the authors of Multimodal-first or pantomime-first?
Technical Report
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Working Paper
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Chapter
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The following is the edited version of an exchange that took place in 2013 between Renia Lopez-Ozieblo and David McNeill on McNeill's paper Gesture–Speech Unity — What it is, where it comes from (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/305477511_Gesture-Speech_Unity_-_What_it_is_where_it_came_from ) and his 2012 book How Language Began: Gesture an...
Data
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Article
Gestures touch classical linguistic themes, especially what can be called the dynamic dimension of language. The article begins by describing a continuum of gesture kinds, and then zeroes in on co-expressive, speech-synchronized ‘gesticulations.’ The rest of the article describes how gesticulations exhibit and ‘fuel’ language dynamics in growth poi...
Research
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Blog Post on Why We Gesture: The surprising role of hand movements in communication. Cambridge University Press 2016. –David McNeill Why do we gesture? Many would say it brings emphasis, energy and ornamentation to speech (which is assumed to be the core of what is taking place); in short, gesture is an " add-on. " (as Adam Kendon, who also rejects...
Book
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As children begin to use language in early childhood, they produce increasingly large units of coherent speech, including narrative descriptions of events. This book examines the process of narrative development in young children, focusing on the development of ‘cohesion’ - the use of speech and gesture to create coherent perspectives on events. Su...
Book
As children begin to use language in early childhood, they produce increasingly large units of coherent speech, including narrative descriptions of events. This book examines the process of narrative development in young children, focusing on the development of ‘cohesion’ - the use of speech and gesture to create coherent perspectives on events. Su...
Article
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Abstract Minimal packages of language embodiment have been called growth points (GPs). In a GP gesture and speech are inherent and equal parts. Out of a GP comes speech orchestrated around a gesture. Can theories of language origin explain this dynamic process? A popular theory, gesture-first, cannot; in fact, it fails twice – predicting what did n...
Chapter
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Emblems contain inner metaphors – precision for “OK,” the so-called conduit metaphor for the grappolo, for example. Other metaphors are Up is Good, Bad is Down in “thumbs up/down,” and Beams and Obstacles in “warding-off” (including the “horn”). Cultures historically pick metaphors, codify them with standards of form and function, ensure social sta...
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In this paper, I put forth the idea that a process in the production of speech can also be found, on an entirely different scale, in theatrical and film performance. Not simply that actors speak, but the semiotics of language, as a dynamic system, also appear, on their own, in the semiotics of theater. It forms a kind of “triangle” of gesture mimic...
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Proceedings of the Twenty-Third Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society: General Session and Parasession on Pragmatics and Grammatical Structure (1997)
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In this chapter we provide evidence that speech-synchronized gestures are major sources of discourse cohesion. The evidence comes from a range of gesture types, including representational, beat, and pointing gestures. Our analyses suggest that gestures mark information that is newsworthy relative to what has come before, and thus that synchronous,...
Data
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The chapters in this volume have generally accepted the argument that speech-gesture integration is basic to language use. But what explains the integration itself? I will attempt to make the case that it can be understood with the concept of a ‘growth point’ or GP (McNeill & Duncan this volume) It is called a GP since it is a theoretical unit in w...
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Slobin's "thinking for speaking", viewed dynamically as gesture imagery for speaking, forms an updated version of the Whorfian hypothesis, that languages have bullt-in theories of reality.
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Minimal packages of language embodiment have been called growth points (GPs). In a GP gesture and speech are inherent and equal parts. Out of a GP comes speech orchestrated around a gesture. Can theories of language origin explain this dynamic process? A popular theory, gesture-first, cannot; in fact, it fails twice – predicting what did not evolve...
Article
In this volume, the author deals explicitly and literally with the speech-thought relationship. Departing boldly from contemporary linguistic and psycholinguistic thinking, the author offers us one of the truly serious efforts since Vygotsky to deal with this question. A unifying theme is the organization of action, and speech is seen as growing ou...
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The phenomenological concept of personal 'style', being the individual's idiosyncratic mode of being, is registered in speech and gesture during narrative discourse. We propose THEME is able to empirically pinpoint instances of this largely intuitive concept. Gestural catchments are stylistic elements of language use which THEME could recover by id...
Chapter
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Aproprioception is the loss of proprioceptive feedback, the sense of one's own bodily position and movements in time and space. Aproprioception renders practical action nearly impossible, without mental concentration and visual supervision; in contrast it does not affect gestures. Gestures remain intact in a morphokinetic sense and in synchrony wit...
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This paper outlines an argument for how development in child speech and gesture could shed light on language evolution: child acquisition can be thought of as two types of acquisition, one of which goes extinct (gesture-first, Acquisition 1) and is replaced by another (gesture–speech unity, Acquisition 2). For ontogenesis, this implies that childre...
Book
Volume II of the handbook offers a unique collection of exemplary case studies. In five chapters and 99 articles it presents the state of the art on how body movements are used for communication around the world. Topics include the functions of body movements, their contexts of occurrence, their forms and meanings, their integration with speech, an...
Article
Full-text available
Aproprioception is the loss of proprioceptive feedback, the sense of one's own bodily position and movements in time and space. Aproprioception renders practical action nearly impossible, without mental concentration and visual supervision; in contrast it does not affect gestures. Gestures remain intact in a morphokinetic sense and in synchrony wit...
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Hypothesis of this note The origin of language profoundly changed the course of human evolution. I imagine everyone acknowledges this in one way or another. Language had roots in primate evolution but its origin was a unique event that has led us along paths traversed by no other animal. Psychological changes are among them. The hypothesis of this...
Article
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We extend Werner and Kaplan's (1963) account of early language development as symbol formation to the development of cohesion in young children's narratives. We propose that the development of cohesion relies on imagistic gestures, specifically on gestural catchments - series of gestures (not necessarily continuous) with recurring features that emb...
Conference Paper
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Minimal packages of language embodiment have been called growth points (GPs). In a GP gesture and speech are inherent and equal parts. Out of a GP comes speech orchestrated around a gesture. Can theories of language origin explain this dynamic process? A popular theory, gesture-first, cannot; in fact, it fails twice – predicting what did not evolve...
Book
Volume I of the handbook presents contemporary, multidisciplinary, historical, theoretical, and methodological aspects of how body movements relate to language. It documents how leading scholars from differenct disciplinary backgrounds conceptualize and analyze this complex relationship. Five chapters and a total of 72 articles, present current and...
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This article is a sketch of the 'gesture-first' and the gesture and speech ('Mead's Loop') theories of language evolution, plus how a capacity for syntax could have arisen during linguistic encounters, and implications of the foregoing for current-day language ontogenesis as it recapitulates steps in language phylogenesis, including both a gesture-...
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A sketch of the theoretical background and basic assumptions for regarding language and gesture as an integrated system along with an account of the empirical observations and findings which have inspired and that lend support to this theory.
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An overview on what is currently known about gestures and speech from a psychological perspective. Spontaneous co-verbal gestures offer insights into imagistic and dynamic forms of thinking while speaking and gesturing. Includes motion event studies, also from cross-cultural and developmental perspectives, and concerning those with language impairm...
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Presents evidence that languages have their own specific patterns of visuospatial thinking while speaking. Comparisons of spontaneous speech-synchronized gestures for the same events by monolingual speakers of English and Spanish during narrations of a cartoon story show differences in the visuospatial cognition associated with the satellite-framed...
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Proposes that the oral modality of language assumed the segmented and combinatorial code not because of its strengths but to compensate for its weaknesses. The oral modality is not well suited to conveying messages mimetically. The manual modality consequently assumes the role of mimetic encoding, in the form of spontaneous gestures found to accomp...
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This paper is a microethnographic comparison between a pair of PreK (ages 4-5) girls and triad of boys working collaboratively on the same mathematical task. The children, matched by gender homogenously, are charged with completing a tangram puzzle on a SMART Table, a multi-touch tabletop that supports virtual manipulatives. Tasks are constrained b...
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Proceedings of the Sixteenth Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society (1990), pp. 57-68
Chapter
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When speech is prevented, morphs emerge de novo. The morphs include standards of good form and syntagmatic values. However, when speech is present, gestures do not attain morph status, do not have standards of form or syntagmatic values.
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Our research aims to identify children’s communicative strategies when faced with the task of solving a geometric puzzle in CSCL contexts. We investigated how to identify and trace distributed cognition in problem-solving interactions based on discursive cohesion to objects, participants, and prior discursive content, and geometric and cooperative...
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We focus on highly multimodal depictions of multi-party meetings (US Air Force war gaming sessions). The data we code are eclectic—chains of linguistic co-reference, gaze deployments, ‘F-formations’ (a category from Kendon), and parses of turn management, floor control, coalition formation and conflict. The concept of a hyperphrase ties all the thr...
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Human language is not the same as human speech. We use gestures and signs to communicate alongside, or instead of, speaking. Yet gestures and speech are processed in the same areas of the human brain, and the study of how both have evolved is central to research on the origins of human communication. Written by one of the pioneers of the field, thi...
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Mr. Ian Waterman, sometimes referred to as ‘IW’, suffered at age 19 a sudden, total deafferentation of his body from the neck down - the near total loss of all the touch, proprioception, and limb spatial position senses that tell you, without looking, where your body is and what it is doing. The loss followed a never-diagnosed fever that is believe...
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Early humans formed language units consisting of global and discrete dimensions of semiosis in dynamic opposition, or 'growth points.' At some point, gestures gained the power to orchestrate actions, manual and vocal, with significances other than those of the actions themselves, giving rise to cognition framed in dual terms. However, our proposal...
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The SIDGrid architecture provides a frame-work for distributed annotation, archiving, and analysis of the rapidly growing volume of multimodal data. The framework inte-grates three main components: an annota-tion and analysis client, a web-accessible data repository, and a portal to the dis-tributed processing capability of the Ter-aGrid. The archi...
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Did the archetypical cave man come up with discrete words that refer to objects, actions, locations, etc., and then, at some point, combine them; or on the contrary did he have words that globally indexed whole semantic complexes, and then come to divide them? Our answer is: either or both; he (or, more likely, she) was forming imagery-language dia...
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Blindness might be described as a biological condition, and thus remedies could be in the realm of biotechnology. However, the convergence of information technology and cognitive science offers great opportunities for understanding and helping blind children as they learn mathematics, the crosscutting discipline most important for all branches of s...
Conference Paper
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In this paper, we report on the infrastructure we have developed to support our research on multimodal cues for understanding meetings. With our focus on multimodality, we investigate the interaction among speech, gesture, posture, and gaze in meetings. For this purpose, a high quality multimodal corpus is being produced.
Conference Paper
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Students who are blind are typically one to three years behind their seeing counterparts in mathematics and science. We posit that a key reason for this resides in the inability of such students to access multimodal embodied communicative behavior of mathematics instructors. This impedes the ability of blind students and their teachers to maintain...
Conference Paper
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My emphasis in this paper is on floor control in multiparty discourse: the approach is psycholinguistic. This perspective includes turn management, turn exchange and coordination; how to recognize the dominant speaker even when he or she is not speaking, and a theory of all this. The data to be examined comprise a multimodal depiction of a 5-party...
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Although Arbib's extension of the mirror-system hypothesis neatly sidesteps one problem with the “gesture-first” theory of language origins, it overlooks the importance of gestures that occur in current-day human linguistic performance, and this lands it with another problem. We argue that, instead of gesture-first, a system of combined vocalizatio...
Book
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David McNeill, a pioneer in the ongoing study of the relationship between gesture and language, here argues that gestures are active participants in both speaking and thinking. He posits that gestures are key ingredients in an “imagery-language dialectic” that fuels speech and thought. The smallest unit of this dialectic is the growth point, a...
Article
Sign Language Studies 5.4 (2005) 506-523 When linguists began their epic analysis of ASL as a language in the 1960s, a journey guided by two major books (Stokoe 1960, Klima and Bellugi 1979), the prevailing folk view could be summed up by the expression "sign is gesture." The insights accumulated by Stokoe and extended by Klima and Bellugi belied t...
Conference Paper
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To develop multimodal interfaces, one needs to understand the constraints underlying human communicative gesticulation and the kinds of features one may compute based on these underlying human characteristics.In this paper we address hand motion oscillatory gesture detection in natural speech and conversation. First, the hand motion trajectory sign...
Article
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Performing an action and concurrently describing it creates possibilities for observing how speech and action are synchronized and mutually shape each other. The results to be described show that iconicity is an organizing principle of motion control — actions are performed in relation to speech in such a way as to create an image of the meaning in...
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Signal processing tools are developed to help automati- cally detect significant events or focal points in the speech and gesture traces of audio-visual data and investigate their temporal correlation as part of a multi-disciplinary effort to assemble the computational resources for facilitating re- search in gesture and speech interaction. One key...
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Perceptual analysis of video (analysis by unaided ear and eye) plays an important role in such disciplines as psychology, psycholinguistics, linguistics, anthropology, and neurology. In the specific domain of psycholinguistic analysis of gesture and speech, researchers micro-analyze videos of subjects using a high quality video cassette recorder th...
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Gesture and speech combine to form a rich basis for human conversational interaction. To exploit these modalities in HCI, we need to understand the interplay between them and the way in which they support communication. We propose a framework for the gesture research done to date, and present our work on the cross-modal cues for discourse segmentat...
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Research described here is concerned with processing and analysis of verbal and non-verbal conversational data. Tools have been developed to aid automated analysis of speech and gesture data in order to avoid time-consuming manual anal- ysis by experts. The tools were applied to examine the ex- citatory hypothesis of temporal cross-modal relationsh...
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Empirical studies of gesture in a subject who has lost proprioception and the sense of touch from the neck down show that specific aspects of gesture remain normal despite abnormal motor processes for instrumental movement. The experiments suggest that gesture, as a linguistic phenomenon, is not reducible to instrumental movement. They also support...
Conference Paper
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We present an experimental investigation into the phenomenon of gestural symmetry for two-handed gestures accompanying speech. We describe an approach to compute hand motion symmetries based on the correlation computations. Local symmetries are detected using a windowing operation. We demonstrate that the selection of a smaller window size results...
Conference Paper
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Our approachis motivatedbytheconvictionthat gestureandspeech are coexpressiveof the underlying dynamic ideation that drives hu- man communication. As such, transitions and cohesions is gestu- ral behavior would inform us as to the discourse conceptualization. In this paper, we examine the role of motion symmetries of two- handed gestures in the str...