Gesture in Multiparty Interaction

By Emily Shaw

Categories: Linguistics
Series: Sociolinguistics in Deaf Communities
Imprint: Gallaudet University Press
Hardcover : 9781944838430, 256 pages, January 2019
Ebook : 9781944838447, 256 pages, December 2018
Request a Desk or Exam Copy Request a Media Review Copy

Emily Shaw establishes connections between embodied discourses in American Sign Language and spoken English and illuminates gesture's connection to language as a whole.



Gesture in Multiparty Interaction confronts the competing views that exist regarding gesture’s relationship to language. In this work, Emily Shaw examines embodied discourses in American Sign Language and spoken English and seeks to establish connections between sign language and co-speech gesture. By bringing the two modalities together, Shaw illuminates the similarities between certain phenomena and presents a unified analysis of embodied discourse that more clearly captures gesture’s connection to language as a whole.
​       Shaw filmed Deaf and hearing participants playing a gesture-based game as part of a social game night. Their interactions were then studied using discourse analysis to see whether and how Deaf and hearing people craft discourses through the use of their bodies. This volume examines gesture, not just for its iconic, imagistic qualities, but also as an interactive resource in signed and spoken discourse. In addition, Shaw addresses the key theoretical barriers that prevent a full accounting of gesture’s interface with signed and spoken language. Her study pushes further the notion that language is fundamentally embodied.


Emily Shaw is an assistant professor in the Department of Interpretation and Translation at Gallaudet University. She is also a nationally certified ASL–English interpreter.



"This book constitutes a very welcome challenge to the traditional emphasis on the differences between signed and spoken language use (which has unfortunately obscured many similarities), and enables Shaw to address a wide range of topical questions of interest to scholars of linguistics, anthropology, and gesture studies...Shaw's demonstration of how we can compare deaf and hearing interactions is the greatest strength of the book."

— Gabrielle Hodge, Journal of Pragmatics

"Shaw makes a significant contribution to defining the role of gesture from the perspective of multimodality, semiotics, interaction and embodiment. For me, as a Deaf academic, a sign language user and a member of the sign language community, Shaw’s research is more than welcome...(and) is an icebreaker in an important way."

— Juhana Salonen, Multimodal Communication

"I am quite optimistic about the perspective on embodied discourse that Shaw provides in Gesture in Multiparty Interaction ... Shaw’s approach, which moves beyond the gesture-sign dichotomy to instead focus on the functions of composite utterances in situated discourse, presents a compelling and encouraging solution for integrating these two fields in a theoretically satisfying way. Along the way, Shaw’s detailed analysis of instances of naturalistic discourse, though challenging to condense into bite-sized portions for the purposes of writing a review, richly illustrate these complex theoretical notions, making them accessible to new audiences."

— Ryan Lepic, Sign Language and Linguistics

"Shaw presses us, as sociolinguists, to think of co-speech and talk as symbiotic, mutually elaborating dimensions of the same thing: language."

— Emily Kuret, Language in Society