From the finger lift to the palm-up open hand when presenting a point: A methodological exploration of forms and functions

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


There are many studies on the palm-up open hand (PUOH) as a gesture used when the speaker is presenting a point, but many other gesture forms can also accompany this discursive move. While the forms may appear diverse based on traditional means of gesture analysis, the relations between a number of them can be analyzed in a coherent way using the kinesiological system developed by Boutet (2010; 2018; to appear). This system approaches gestural forms not from external criteria based on the viewer’s perspective (involving hand shapes, locations in gesture space, etc.), but rather from the inside; in the present analysis, the focus is on the directions of movements made at joints in producing them (e.g. whether flexion vs. extension was involved, whether any rotation involved was inward or outward, etc.). Four particular gestures are considered as points along a continuum: from the finger extension, to the forearm and wrist turn-out of the hand, to the supination of the PUOH, to an exaggerated form of the PUOH produced with extension and abduction of the upper arm. A multifunctional model is also proposed to analyze the degree of transparency of the different gestures’ representational, pragmatic, and interactive functions. The functional analysis performed with this model is grounded in form features from a combination of the kinesiological and traditional four-parameter form-based systems. This methodological exploration provides a model which could be applied or adapted for the analysis of other groups of gestures that are related in terms of their physiological means of production.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17–30
Number of pages14
JournalLanguages and Modalities
Issue number1
Early online date25 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


Dive into the research topics of 'From the finger lift to the palm-up open hand when presenting a point: A methodological exploration of forms and functions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this