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Symbolic gestures: The case of the Italian gestionary

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The paper describes some aspects of symbolic gestures, by providing examples from the Italian symbolic gestures, the autonomous culturally codified gestures used by Italian hearing people in everyday communication. It shows how the signal, the meaning and the norms of use of each gesture can be analyzed. The semantic aspects of symbolic gestures (context of use, synonyms, verbal formulation, meaning, grammatical and pragmatic classification) are illustrated in detail, a semantic typology of Italian symbolic gestures is presented, and it is shown how rhetorical figures are at work in their meanings as a source for synchronic polysemy and diachronic evolution. The paper finally presents the structure of the Italian gestionary, a dictionary in progress of Italian symbolic gestures.

Keywords: Italian gestures of hearing people; gestural lexicon; rhetorical figures

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Università Roma Tre

Publication date: January 1, 2002


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