Considering the role that speech pauses play in communication we speculate on the possibility that holds (or gesture pauses) may serve to similar purposes supporting the view that gestures as language are an expressive resource that can take on different functions depending on the communicative demand. The data reported in the present paper seem to support this hypothesis, showing that 93% of the children and 78% of the adult speech pause variation is predictable from holds, suggesting that at the least to some extent, the function of holds may be thought to be similar to speech pauses. While speech pauses are likely to play the role of signalling mental activation processes aimed at replacing the “old spoken content” of an “utterance” with a new one, holds may signal mental activation processes aimed at replacing the “old visible bodily actions” (intimately involved in the semantic and/or pragmatic contents of the old “utterance”) with new bodily actions reflecting the representational and/or propositional contribution that gestures are engaged to convey in the new “utterance”.
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