Essays by David McNeill & Co-Authors

Origin of Language

Birth of a Morph
When do gestures become morphemes?
Download this manuscript [PDF, 4.7 MB]
Gesture First, but no Gestures?
Comment on Michael Arbib's "From monkey-like action recognition to human language: An evolutionary framework for neurolinguistics", Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Download this article [PDF, 188 KB]
Growth Points from the Very Beginning
Emphasizes the natural selection of joint gesture-speech, not 'gesture-first,' in language origin.
Download this article [PDF, 232 KB] from Interaction Studies 9:1. © 2008. John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Notes on the Origin of Language: What Evolved, and How
A book in progress. Links to appear soon.

Gesture in General

Cambridge Encyclopedia
The varieties of gestures; how gestures are organized internally; the functions of the different phases of gestures; how gestures exhibit meanings; how gestures incorporate discourse information; and the role of gesture in social resonance.
Download this article [PDF, 464 KB] which appears in the "Cambridge Encyclopedia of the Language Sciences", edited by Patrick C. Hogan.
Imagery for Speaking
Contribution to the Festschrift for Dan Slobin, thinking-for-speaking includes imagery-for-speaking.
Download this essay [PDF, 1.7 MB]
Contribution to the Festschrift for Bob Krauss, our emphasis is on floor control in multiparty discourse and a theory of it that arises from the growth point enriched to accommodate interactive content as a component of idea unit creation.
Download this article [PDF, 1.7 MB] which appears in Morsella, E. (ed.), Expressing oneself / expressing one's self: Communication, language, cognition, and identity. London: Taylor and Francis. 11/09/07
Unexpected Metaphors
Metaphors created online in gesture that are not culturally defined.
Download this essay [PDF, 324 KB]
Aspects of Aspect
In describing goal-directed actions step by step, speakers place the linguistic center (‘L-Center’) of the description in such a way as to recreate iconically the aspectual viewpoint encoded in speech.
Download this article [PDF, 252 KB] published in Gesture 3:1 (2003).
Gesture and Thought
Both a synopsis and extension of Gesture and Thought (the book), this essay explores how gestures and language work together in a dialectic.
Download this essay [PDF, 320 KB]
Hand to Mouth: Linking Spontaneous Gesture and Aspect
Fay Parrill's 2000 BA Thesis.
Download this paper [PDF, 416 KB]

Gesture and Language Disorder

Gesture and Growth Points in Language Disorders
We explore four disorders—disfluent (agrammatic) aphasia, Down’s syndrome, Williams syndrome, and autism. Each can be seen to stem from a breakdown, interruption or inaccessibility of a different part of the GP.
Download this draft chapter [PDF, 832 KB] for The Handbook of Psycholinguistic & Cognitive processes: Perspectives in Communication Disorders, Jacqueline Guendouzi, Filip Loncke & Mandy J. Williams (eds). LEA/ Taylor & Francis.
An embodied account of increasing coherence in an autistic adolescent’s repeated retellings of a story, focusing on catchments and a construction’s mesodevelopment in speech and enactment across three days of retellings, from its origin in three separate descriptions of three event sequences, to the merging of two event sequences in a single utterance and then the merging of all three.
Download part 1 [PDF, 288 KB] Download part 2 [PDF, 44 KB] Download part 3 [PDF, 144 KB]

Gesture and Phenomenology

IW— “The Man Who Lost His Body”
Drawing upon the unique case of ‘IW’ (who in the words of the Horizon program we quote in our title, ‘lost his body’), we discuss aspects of Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology and its application to the growth point and the embodiment of thinking in speech and gesture.
Download this chapter [PDF, 2.4 MB] for Handbook of Phenomenology and Cognitive Sciences, Shaun Gallagher & Daniel Schmickin (eds.). Springer. 10/18/08

Gesture and Performance

Gestures of Power, Power of Gesture
How can people understand each other if they have routinely different contexts? One possibility is through mimesis — one person echoing (one recommends, surreptitiously) the other person’s gesture catchments, and from this, recovers the context. This is the ‘power of gestures’ (the ‘gestures of power’ are those of Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton used as examples). Gesture coders spontaneously mimic gestures when they encounter trouble understanding, and this could be the same process.
Download this paper [PDF, 542.2 KB]

Modeling Growth Points

Modeling (or Not) the Growth Point
What would it take to model the GP computationally? An approach based on the concept of coordinative structures seems (partly) to bridge the computational and semiotic worlds.
Download this presentation [PDF, 4.7 MB]
Implementing a Non-Modular Theory
The growth point meets Max, the animated conversational agent devised at the University of Bielefeld.
Download this chapter [PDF, 3.2 MB]