BreMM19 | Janecka

Martin Janecka
University of South Bohemia | Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic

Grammatical integration of gestures into the spoken language on the basis of experiments with aphasic patients

In my research I create an audiovisual corpus of aphasic patients and verification persons with the help on ELAN software. 5 patients with diagnosed aphasia and 10 verification persons (or persons with no evident speech deficiency) participate in this project.

From methodological point of view, I point out a necessity to include description of nonverbal elements into grammar description and, at the same time, to describe damaged data (on aphasic patients) as well. I also introduce some possible perspectives of exploring categories and extent of speech damage by aphasic patients and different ways, how they substitute verbal deficiency with the help of gestures. I also dedicate an interest to the fact, that gestures can grammaticalize in positions of e.g. nominal groups.

From the viewpoint of data processing methods, I explore speech parameters on the one hand: among others quantity of words, length of phrases and their complexity and lexical diversity, and parameters of gestures on the other hand: quantity of gestures, rate of gestures matched to a word, diversity of gestures etc.

As a basic typology of gestures I take over the classification by Hogrefe (2009): in the wide group of so called pictographs (semantic gestures) belong iconographs (to draw an object in the air), kinetographs (to represent a way or a speed of a movement). Other independent groups of gestures are the deictic gestures and the so-called emblems.

I verify two fundamental hypotheses established by Jakob et al. (2011):

Hypothesis no. 1) Patients with aphasia produce more gestures than so called verification persons during interpretation of texts. I will extract some data by the experiments, and those data will show if A) group of patients shows higher rate of gestures matched to a word than the verification group and if B) aphasic patients use more complex gestures than the verification group. I will perform a comparison between these groups from the viewpoint of rate of gestures matched to a word and from the viewpoint of so called Hamming’s distance.

Hypothesis no. 2) The more speech restricted an aphasic patient is, the more gestures he/she produces during the interpretation of a text. With the help of experiments some data will be extracted, which will show, whether the patients producing long or complex phrases use less gestures than the patients producing short and less complex phrases; therefore, I will explore the relationship between the rate of gestures matched to a word and the complexity of phrase. The next issue, which is necessary to discover, is whether aphasic patients with lower lexical diversity use more gestures than patients with higher lexical diversity, which means that the relationship between the rate of gestures matched to a word and the length of a phrase will be explored.


CICONE, M. The relation between gesture and language in aphasic communication. Brain and Language, 1979, 8, pp. 324–349.

FRICKE, H.: Grammatik multimodal: Wie Wörter und Gesten zusammenwirken. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2012.

GARRAFFA, M. The grammatical nature of minimal structures: impoverishment of grammatical features in a non-fluent aphasic speaker. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011.

HOGREFE, K. Aphasie, Apraxie und Gestik: Zur Produktion von Handgesten bei Patienten mit linkhemisphärischer Hirnschädigung. Dissertation, Universität Potsdam, 2009.

JAKOB, H. et al. Zussamenhang von Spontansprachproduktion und Gesten bei Patienten mit Aphasie. Aphasie und verwandte Gebiete, 3, 2011, pp. 20–38.


Mgr. et Mgr. Martin Janečka, Ph.D., graduated from Czech philology and General linguistics and communication theory, both at the Palacký University in Olomouc, Czech Republic. He gained Ph.D. for the thesis Semiotic aspects of S. K. Shaumyan’s Grammar at the Palacký University as well.

He also studied at the Institute of Slavonic languages in Potsdam and at the University of Bucharest (English Language and Literature).

He works at the Department of Czech philology in České Budějovice since 2015.

To his research interests belong semiotics, text theory, morphology-syntax interface (the category of case) and nonverbal communication.

  • © 2020 University of Bremen || Faculty of Linguistics and Literary Science