gesture and body language

Un momento!

The believability and quality of a game character is hugely influenced by the fidelity of movement and the multiple layers of body language.
Sir Francis Bacon put the relationship of gesture and language in the form of a simple analogy: “As the tongue speaketh to the ear, so the gesture speaketh to the eye” (Bacon, 1891).

We respond to changes reflexively; small gestures, body orientations, the time of silence, the spatial difference and the utterance are all examples of the factors that can bring us a hint of this instinctive awareness.

Theatrical dialogue is a continuous exchange of verbal and gestural signs, assembled from types and in ratios strictly determined by genre and national tradition, and performed with a varying degree of improvisation.

Character is 98 percent of comedy….
…and timing is the other 98 percent
Comic timing is use of rhythm and tempo to enhance comedy and humor.
The pacing of the delivery of a joke has a strong impact on its comic effect;
the same is also true of more physical comedy such as slapstick.
A beat is a pause taken for the purposes of comic timing,
often to allow the audience time to recognize the joke and react,
or to heighten the suspense before delivery of the expected punch line.


Gesture occurs in tandem with such bodily communication as gaze, body posture and hand gesture. And gesture works in two fundamental ways. First, gesture aids the speaker in the very process of thinking. In fact, Streeck says we do not just think with our brains. We think with our bodies. In face-to-face communication, gesture also aids the listener. It may provide emphasis, preview the type of speech the speaker is about to offer or actually be used to imitate or demonstrate something in the material world.

In conversation, gestures are timed to related speech concepts; directly, indirectly or spanning the section of dialogue;
Direct: Gestures synchronize their stroke directly with a word (noun, verb, adverb…)
Indirect: The stroke does not cover the correlated noun, verb etc. itself, but closely linked information
Span: Gesture stroke(s) (plus hold) cover(s) a whole or almost all of the clause.
Gestures follow five common patterns;
Emblems or motifs that have common meaning
Fillers or non specific actions to cover thinking time, or pauses
Turn taking/You & Me punctuation to re-enforce timing and roles in conversation
Iconic/object, idenfiable specific gestures
Metaphorics, less tangible concepts (rather than objects)

A cultural body: acts and signs
Acts – With our body, we act and signify. As M.Mauss said: The most physical and intimate acts are culturally determined. Walking, swimming, sleeping, washing, eating, making love, giving birth are cultural (Techniques du corps 1935)
Signs – Communication implies a same code of behaviour which varies according to the culture and in a given culture, to the context, according to the status, age, gender and the situation itself.
Act-derived signs – The gestural sign derives from action. It mimes object handling, its configuration or its movement. The gesture shows a natural link of contiguity or resemblance with what it signifies.

Body language; 10-tells for life
1. Smile and the world smiles with you. It’s the universal gesture of warmth and friendship. Plus it’s been found to release endorphins, feel-good chemicals, in your body. So even if everyone else is in a bad mood, you’ll feel more confident!
2. Make eye contact. Literally seeing eye-to-eye with people encourages mutual respect. But don’t stare, it can end up making people uncomfortable rather than relaxed!
3. Echo other people’s body language and they will find you more agreeable. Mirroring it exactly is likely to freak them out, but try taking up similar seating positions for instance.
4. Open yourself up. To appear friendly and relaxed, present your body without defences: arms uncrossed and face-to-face.
5. Stand tall. A straight back and erect posture give you self-respect for all to see.
6. Shake hands with people by offering your palm held vertically to show you greet them as an equal.
7. Respect other people’s personal space. Getting inappropriately close makes people jumpy.
8. Look out for indicators that other people feel uncomfortable. Touching one part of their body with another (like playing with their hair or clasping their hands) is a sign of seeking physical comfort. If you want to reassure them, try tipping your head slightly on one side as if you are listening.
9. Look out for other people’s aggression. Tight lips and knuckles directed outwards are a good indication, and a bad sign.
10. See if you can spot the fleeting expressions and contradictory body language that betray people’s true emotions. You’ll be wiser for it

Many nonverbal behaviors–smiling, blushing, shrugging–reveal our emotions.
One nonverbal behavior, gesturing, exposes our thoughts. Children sometimes communicate different ideas with their hand gestures than with their spoken words, perhaps indicating that gestures are more honest and telling than words.
In general, we are unaware of gesture, which occurs as an undercurrent alongside an acknowledged verbal exchange.

wikipedia lists the following gestures;
bent head
head shaking
head turning
pointing by chin
hello nod

Dictionary of non verbal body language

Talking Italian with hand gestures



  1. genecloud said

    “The researchers found strong negative peaks–a so-called N400 effect–whenever speech and gesture contradicted one another. They interpreted this phenomenon to mean that gestures and words are in fact processed together: observers factor the meaning of a gesture into their interpretation of a word.”

    “Gestures also adapt to speech; when a storyteller has misspoken and stumbles momentarily, a preprepared gesture appears to be held in abeyance until the speech component is running smoothly again.”

    When gesture and word differ, you will get a mental red flag and it won’t feel natural.
    Gesture’s tend to preceed words – possibly as they preceeded speech in our development – this depends on specifics language (English & German, rather than French & Spanish)
    Gesture can be used instead of speech or to cover for mistakes or thinking time.

  2. genecloud said

    from the “Judgment of other people’s facial expressions of emotions is influenced by their concurrent affective hand movements” in the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology.

    “perception of facial expressions of emotions can be affected by the expressive qualities of hand movements”

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