17 July 2012

All Greek to me: but how much do native speakers gesticulate?

Just back from a fortnight's sunshine - yes, every single day - on a Greek island, here are some holiday snaps that got me thinking (again) about a theme touched on from time to time on this blog, namely the question of whether some languages are inherently more long-winded than others, and the implications this may have (if any) for things like gestural activity while speaking.

1. My first specimen, with 5 syllables of Greek being translated into 3 syllables of English hardly qualifies as decisive enough:


2. But, on an Olympic Airways flight, 13 syllables of Greek was translated (condensed?) into 6 syllables of English suggests the former may be rather more long-winded:


3. And another handy message on the same flight was translated (condensed?) from 17 syllables of Greek into 7 syllables of English:



Latin v. Greek?
In the first of the posts below, I suggested that there may be a good reason why speakers of Latin-based languages like French, Italian and Spanish are alleged to wave their hands about a lot when speaking - and that it might have something to do with it being more challenging to hold the attentiveness of speakers of/listeners to long-winded languages.

On the basis of this small sample, Greek appears to be far more long-winded than English. Yet I've  never heard Greeks included in lists of keen Mediterranean gesticulators. 

So today's question is whether there are any native speakers or observers out there who can shed light on this intriguing issue?

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