What is it about?

When people speak, they gesture. Some of these gestures can help us understand what is going on in a conversation, for instance shrugging and head tilting indicate doubt. But counting the gestures in everyday conversation where people speak at the same time, interrupt each other or finish each other's sentences has been. a challenge. Do we count how many times one person speaks on a subject (but then how do we account for topics two people discuss)? Do we focus on a topic and count all the gestures everyone made (but then when does "a topic" begin and end)? We realized that the solution is to look at the way people tell each other things. When we speak, we tend to construct stories. These can be as small as one sentence ("He died that day") or go on for several minutes; they are told by one person, a pair or a group. Each micronarrative (because this is what we called them) revolves around a one topic, and has a definite beginning and end. Micronarratives allow us to divide the stream of conversation into smaller units, making it possible to reliably analyze everyday speech.

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Why is it important?

Our findings show that even a short conversation is composed of many short stories with defined topics. This will make it possible to create models of the flow of natural conversation, showing us how people negotiate topic changes, agree and disagree with one another or contribute to a single story.

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This page is a summary of: Micronarrative: Unit of analysis for quantitative studies of gesture in focus interviews, Lingua, October 2019, Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/j.lingua.2019.06.011.
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