Real space blends in spoken language: Evidence from “Mr. Roberts”
In analyzing the use of space in American Sign Language (ASL), Liddell (2003) argues convincingly that no account of ASL can be complete without a discussion of how linguistic signs and non-linguistic gestures and gradient phenomena work together to create meaning. This represents a departure from the assumptions of much of linguistic theory, which has attempted to describe purely linguistic phenomena as part of an autonomous system. It also raises the question of whether these phenomena are peculiar to ASL and other sign languages, or if they also apply to spoken language. In this paper, I show how Liddell’s approach can be applied to English data to provide a fuller explanation of how speakers create meaning. Specifically, I analyze Jack Lemmons’ use of space, gesture, and voice in a scene from the movie “Mr. Roberts”.
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