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The role of gender and familiarity for speech and gestures during agreement in Greek conversation


  • Stamatina Rozou

Summary, in English

Gestures are used in a pragmatic way in interactive contexts such as conversation. Agreement between interlocutors is an ordinary aspect of talk-in-interaction, which is expressed through various types of utterances and gestures. The interlocutors’ status, such as gender and familiarity, may affect both their verbal and non-verbal behavior as previous research has shown. This study investigates the role of gender and familiarity on Greek speakers’ speech and manual gestures when they agree with their interlocutors. To explore this, an elicitation experiment was conducted where an equal number of females and males were exposed to four different conditions, discussing a set topic with a familiar female, a familiar male, an unfamiliar female and an unfamiliar male interlocutor. Agreement utterances and manual gestures with or without speech were isolated and further examined for their frequency, form and distinct characteristics (number of hands, movement, palm orientation, handshape). The results show that females and males are predominantly more expressive verbally but also gesturally with unfamiliar males. In speech, the findings reveal that the two genders tend to express agreement in similar ways. The gesture data with speech, on the other hand, show females to be more productive than males across all conditions, and use a greater variety of gesture configuration. Nevertheless, both genders produce manual gestures with similar characteristics when agreeing, but not across the exact same conditions. The Open Hand, Palm Up and Palm Up Oblique seems to be the main manual gesture pattern for expressing agreement in Greek. As for gestures with non-speech, no noticeable differences were found between females and males. It is thus argued that gender and familiarity do have an effect on the way Greek speakers agree verbally but mainly non-verbally, and especially when it comes to gesture frequency.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Master's degree (two years)


  • Languages and Literatures


  • agreement · conversation · Greek language · manual gestures · speech · non-speech · familiarity · gender · females · males · target speaker · interlocutor · number of hands · movement · palm orientation · handshape ·


  • Marianne Gullberg (Professor)
  • Vassilios Sabatakakis