Ideophones and gesture

Revised and published as:

  • Dingemanse, M. (2013). Ideophones and gesture in everyday speech. Gesture, 13(2), 143–165. doi: 10.1075/gest.13.2.02din

This chapter concerns itself with the relation between ideophones and gesture. Do ideophones indeed tend to come together with gestures, as is often claimed in the literature? If so, how often, does discourse type matter, what type of gestures are most common, and what might be the reason for this coupling? This chapter brings much needed empirical data to these questions.


Note. For data from the corpus of natural discourse, I have obtained informed consent to archive and publicly share transcripts and recordings (including on a website like this). In the earlier stages of corpus collection I did not foresee the possibility of sharing video clips on a public website so I did not seek informed consent specifically for that use. Therefore I would like to err on the side of caution by not showing these materials here.

In chapter 14, the main function of the data excerpts from the corpus is to exemplify McNeill’s taxonomy of gestures. Fortunately these gestures are also found in the folk definitions, for which explicit permission was obtained to show video clips in this website.

Deictic gesture in folk definition of ɣààà 'water gushing' by Ruben
In Extract 9.1, in overlap with line 2 “when it has rained”, Ruben points upward (where the rain comes from)
Emblematic gesture in folk definition of ɣààà 'water gushing' by Ruben
Also in Extract 9.1, Ruben ends his definition with a common emblematic gesture “arms spread out, palms open-forward”, roughly meaning “that’s what I have to say on this topic”.
DEPICTIVE (also known as iconic)
Depictive gestures in folk definition of gìlìgìlì 'circular' by Beatrice
(The second speaker in this extract is a family member of Beatrice)
Examples of depictive gestures are found in all of the folk definitions. They are discussed in detail for the folk definitions of gìlìgìlì ‘circular’ and minimini ‘spherical’.
Beats appear to be more common in naturally occurring talk than in the folk definitions. A clear example could not be found in the clips available here.