Relating gesture to speech: reflections on the role of conditional presuppositions

  • Julie HunterEmail author
Review Article


In his paper ‘Gesture Projection and Cosuppositions,’ Philippe Schlenker argues that co-verbal gestures convey not at-issue content by default and in particular, that they trigger conditional presuppositions. In this commentary, I take issue with both of these claims. Conditional presuppositions do not supply a systematic means for capturing the semantic contribution of a co-verbal gesture. Some gestures appear to contribute content inside of a negation when their associated speech content is likewise embedded; in other cases, co-verbal gestures arguably contribute unconditional content to the global level. When this happens, we can infer what might look like a conditional presupposition, but this inference follows naturally from general principles already at work in purely verbal discourse and does not justify the claim that gesture content is contributed to a conditional presupposition. Problems exposed in the discussion of conditional presuppositions show that we are not yet in a position to make a general claim about the at-issue status of co-verbal gestures.


Co-verbal gesture Iconic gesture Gesture and speech Discourse 


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Juan de la Cierva fellowship IJCI-2014-22059, funded by the Ministerio de Economía, Industria, y Competitividad, Spain.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights

The author declares that the research in this paper did not involve human participants or animals.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.GLiFUniversitat Pompeu FabraBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.IRITUniversité Paul SabatierToulouse Cedex 9France

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