Co-speech gesture in bimodal bilinguals
The effects of knowledge of sign language on co-speech gesture were investigated by comparing the spontaneous gestures of bimodal bilinguals (native users of American Sign Language and English; n=13) and non-signing native English speakers (n=12). Each participant viewed and re-told the Canary Row cartoon to a non-signer whom they did not know. Nine of the thirteen bimodal bilinguals produced at least one ASL sign, which we hypothesise resulted from a failure to inhibit ASL. Compared with non-signers, bimodal bilinguals produced more iconic gestures, fewer beat gestures, and more gestures from a character viewpoint. The gestures of bimodal bilinguals also exhibited a greater variety of handshape types and more frequent use of unmarked handshapes. We hypothesise that these semantic and form differences arise from an interaction between the ASL language production system and the co-speech gesture system.