In researching the term '(articulatory) gesture', it seems to me that the meaning is something like 'movement of a single articulator for a single segment'. Ergo, e.g. a sound with secondary articulation would consist of (at least) two gestures. This seems to be the definition used here, for example. However, I've also seen usage which seems to suggest it means 'movement of all articulators involved in the formation of a segment'.

Is this a case of one usage being wrong? Of disagreement or polysemy existing in the literature?

1 Answer 1


Browman and Goldstein have been using the concept "gesture" since the early 1980's, having adapted it from a non-linguistic theory of physical movement (task dynamics). Linguists subsequently adopted the term from their works. That is far as one can go in answering the question from a linguistic perspective: theirs is the original use of the term. One can hold all sorts of views of the inevitable divergence in meaning assigned to the term, so compare likewise the terms "contrast; phoneme; markedness; allomorph".

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