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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Hispanic Literatures & Linguistics

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Eduardo Negueruela

Subject Categories

Cognition and Perception | Cognitive Psychology | First and Second Language Acquisition | Other Linguistics | Psycholinguistics and Neurolinguistics | Spanish Linguistics


The goal of this dissertation is to study the intrapersonal and symbolic function of gesture by a very specific type of population: hearing speakers of Spanish who, having been born to deaf parents, grew up developing a bimodal (Spanish and Spain’s Sign Language) linguistic interface, which borrows elements from the manual and spoken modalities.

In the ordering of gestures devised by Kendon (1988) and cited by McNeill (1992), gesticulation and sign languages are placed at opposite ends of a continuum. At one end, gesticulation is formed by idiosyncratic spontaneous gestures lacking any conventional linguistic proprieties, which are produced in combination with speech in a global and synthetic semiosis. At the other end, sign languages are fully-fledged languages formed by conventionalized signs, which are produced in the absence of speech in a segmented and analytic semiosis.

Some previous L2 studies (Brown and Gullberg, 2008; Choi and Lantolf, 2008; Negueruela, Lantolf, Jordan, and Gelabert, 2004; Stam, 2001) have addressed the relationship between speech and gestures in order to investigate whether second lan- guage speakers, even at advanced, near-native proficiency levels, shift their thinking- for-speaking patterns.

Data in this study come from the spoken depiction of motion events (Talmy, 2000) of four bimodal participants and are compared with those of four Spanish unimodal counterparts. Data was gathered by video recording participants co-constructing and individually retelling a series of narratives in signing, oral and written modalities, although, the analysis for this study focuses almost exclusively on the oral modality, with some references to the signing when it is deemed appropriate.

Results show how, in the construction of spoken narratives, bimodal participants display a particular sign-like gesticulation which, while co-occurring with speech, maintains linguistic properties and is, at least, partly conventionalized. Future re- search, whether in the general study of bimodalism or specifically in the confluence of Spanish and Spain’s Sign Language, will hopefully benefit from the initial insights outlined here.