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The Metaphorization of Practical Action and Everyday Life Experience in the Words, Emblems, and Coverbal Gestures of Spoken Language

Bogdanka Pavelin Lešić

Puni tekst: engleski pdf 773 Kb

str. 223-233

preuzimanja: 401



This paper focuses on the impact of practical action and experience on all aspects of
oral language, segmental and suprasegmental, verbal and visual (i.e. gestural). It is
based on observations of emblems and coverbal gestures in synergy with the words
of spoken language over a number of years annotating and studying visual and verboacoustic
manifestations in videotaped oral interactions.
Facial expressions, postures, gestures, and body movement in general visually manifest
the close semiotic interweaving of movement, space, and words in human thought
and consequently in human oral expression. The important part of this interweaving
results from the metaphorization or analogical converging of two notions that share
one or more features but otherwise belong to different categories. Thinking and speaking
are experienced as just another form of activity such as the practical actions of
walking, running, handling objects, only transposed into the virtual world of cognitive
and linguistic reality. Thus, when speaking, we are handling concepts by using
gestures and words as if they were the objects experienced in the outside material
reality. The etymology of words expressing abstract ideas often hide the metaphorical
source domain of a concrete phenomenon in our practical life. For example, not only
is the Latin word comprehendere, equivalent in meaning to the English words catch, get,
grasp, or comprehend; the French saisir or comprendre; and the Croatian shvatiti, but all
of these words also share the same underlying metaphor: Understanding is catching.
The coverbal metaphorical hand gesture of grasping an imaginary object seems to
visually revitalize in the gesture space the metaphor, which had become ´dead´ in
the linguistic system.
The correspondences in the verbal and gestural structure of metaphorical mappings
in a given language are possible because words and gestures are parts of a single
framework. They developed out of practical action and everyday life experience and
stay deeply embedded in it.
This paper was presented at the 4th Conference of the International Society for Gesture
Studies: Gesture, Brain and Evolution, 25-30 July 2010, University of Viadrina,
Frankfurt Oder, Germany.

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