Sedinha Tessendorf

Actions as Sources of Gestures

That gestures are often bodily abstractions of everyday actions is not an expert observation, but rather a daily experience. This talk will focus on hand gestures that have an everyday action as its source and lift this action onto a communicative level (see also Streeck 1994, 2011). We will focus on a certain class of hand gestures, namely recurrent gestures (Bressem, Müller 2014, Ladewig 2010, 2014 a,b) that are conventionalized gestures with a stable form-meaning relation, which are not congruent with the more elaborated set of emblematic gestures (see Payrató 1993, 2004, 2014), but share their pragmatic functions.
As an example, we will introduce the “brushing aside gesture”, a recurrent gesture that transfers the action scheme of of brushing something aside, usually small and annoying objects in the immediate surrounding to the realm of communication in order to express a limited set of pragmatic functions. It is a recurrent gesture which is frequently used in Spanish everyday communication and has been investigated in Mexican Spanish (Montes 2003), Cuban Spanish (Müller and Speckmann 2002), Iberian Spanish (Tessendorf 2007, 2014) and in German (Bressem and Müller 2014 a,b). I will show how this special gesture is constructed on the base of the underlying action and how the different characteristics (form and function) of the action are transferred metaphorically and metonymically to the gesture and its use. We will then trace out how a similar analytic procedure has been made fruitful for the analysis of gesture families (Kendon 2004, Müller 2004, Payrató 2003, Bressem and Müller 2014, Fricke, Bressem and Müller 2014) and on gesture fields (Fricke, Bressem and Müller 2014). Bressem and Müller (2014 a,b) have established a repertoire of recurrent gestures which has been closely investigated by the example of so-called AWAY-gestures in German, including the “brushing aside gesture”. By integrating the findings of the use of the “brushing aside gesture” in Spanish into the category of AWAY-gestures in German, we might find some clues showing us a way towards further intercultural investigations of gestures.

References:
Bressem, Jana, and Cornelia Müller (2014 a). The family of AWAY gestures: Negation, refusal, and negative assessment. In: Cornelia Müller et al. (eds.), Body – Language – Communication. An International Handbook on Multimodality in Human Interaction (Handbooks of Linguistics and Communication Science 38.2.). Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter Mouton.

Bressem, Jana, and Cornelia Müller (2014 b). A repertoire of recurrent gestures of German. In: Cornelia Müller et al. (eds.), Body – Language – Communication. An International Handbook on Multimodality in Human Interaction (Handbooks of Linguistics and Communication Science 38.2.). Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter Mouton.

Fricke, Ellen, Jana Bressem, and Cornelia Müller (2014). Gesture families and gestural fields. In: Cornelia Müller, et al. (eds.), Body – Language – Communication. An International Handbook on Multimodality in Human Interaction (Handbooks of Linguistics and Communication Science 38.2.). Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter Mouton.

Kendon, Adam (2004). Gesture: Visible Action as Utterance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ladewig, Silva H.(2011). Putting the cyclic gesture on a cognitive basis. In: CogniTextes 6.

Ladwig, Silva H. (2014 a). Recurrent gestures. In: Cornelia Müller et al. (eds.), Body – Language – Communication. An International Handbook on Multimodality in Human Interaction (Handbooks of Linguistics and Communication Science 38.2.). Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter Mouton.

Ladwig, Silva H. (2014 b). The cyclic gesture. In: Cornelia Mülleret al. (eds.), Body – Language – Communication. An International Handbook on Multimodality in Human Interaction (Handbooks of Linguistics and Communication Science 38.2.). Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter Mouton.

Montes Miró, Rosa Graciela (2003). “Haciendo a un lado”: gestos de desconfirmación en el habla mexicano. IZTAPALAPA 53: 248–267.

Müller, Cornelia (2004). The Palm-Up-Open-Hand. A case of a gesture family? In: Müller, Cornelia and Roland Posner (Eds.), The semantics and pragmatics of everyday gestures. Proceedings of the Berlin conference, April 1998, 233–256. Berlin: Weidler.

Müller, Cornelia and Gerald Speckmann (2002). Gestos con una valoracíon negativa en la conversación cubana. DeSignis 3: 91-103.

Payrató, Lluís (1993). A pragmatic view on autonomous gestures: A first repertoire of Catalan emblems. Journal of Pragmatics 20: 193–216.

Payrató, Lluís (2003). What does ‘the same gesture’ mean? A reflection on emblems, their organization and their interpretation. In: Monica Rector, Isabella Poggi and Nadine Trigo (eds.), Gestures, meaning and use, 73–81. Porto: Fernando Pessoa University Press.

Payrató, Lluís (2004). Notes on pragmatic and social aspects of everyday gestures. In: Cornelia Müller and Roland Posner (eds.), The Semantics and Pragmatics of Everyday Gestures. Proceedings of the Berlin Conference, April 1998, 103-113. Berlin: Weidler.

Streeck, Jürgen (1994). “Speech-handling“: The metaphorical representation of speech in gesture. A cross-cultural study. Unpublished Manuscript.

Streeck, Jürgen (2011) Gesturecraft. The Manu-Facture of Meaning. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Tessendorf, Sedinha (2007). From everyday action to gestural performance: Metonymic motivations of a pragmatic gesture. Talk presented at the Second AFLiCo, 10-11 May 2007, Lille, France.

Tessendorf, Sedinha (2014) Pragmatic and metaphoric – combining functional and cognitive approaches∗in the analysis of the ‘brushing aside gesture’. In: Cornelia Müller et al. (eds.), Body – Language – Communication: An International Handbook on Multimodality in Human Interaction. (Handbooks of Linguistics and Communication Science 38.2.), 82–100. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter Mouton.