Son interlocuteur gesticulait comme un fou.
saw naa-tair-loh-kew-TUHR zhess-tee-kew-lay kuh muh FOO. Click below to hear this.*
The person he/she was talking with was gesticulating wildly.
Common, everyday English is missing a useful word here. How many times have you heard an English speaker mention his interlocutor? Most of us say “the person I was talking to.” In French, that’s much more complicated: you’d have to say something like la personne avec laquelle je parlais. Wouldn’t you rather say mon interlocuteur? It’s four whole syllables shorter!
It comes from the Latin words for among, between (inter) and speak (loqui). And it’s much more widely used in French than in English.
What about the rest of the sentence? You can certainly say faisait des gestes instead of gesticulait. They mean pretty much the same thing, except that gesticuler implies more or less continual movement, while faire des gestes could imply making occasional gestures only.
And wildly…you can’t say sauvagement here. In this context, there is no savagery suggested, only a measure of craziness. So we say comme un fou, like a crazy person.
*Some mobile phones, such as Blackberries, won’t display the audio player. If no player appears, here’s an alternative link to the audio file: