Past, present, and future research on emblems in the Hispanic tradition
Preliminary and methodological considerations
Emblems or emblematic gestures have been recognized as a category or type of gesture in many studies, ever since the pioneering work by Efron (1941) and the well-known typology of Ekman and Friesen (1969). In the Mediterranean area, the study of characteristic emblems shows very different patterns of combinations of linguistic and cultural features, and also of transference or interference between emblems as conventional communicative signals, which may be intimately associated with linguistic varieties and/or cultural backgrounds. The case of the linguistic and cultural contact between Catalan and Spanish offers some interesting tokens of this kind, which can serve as the starting-point for research into emblems throughout the Mediterranean region. The resulting distribution of the historical evolution of the same original emblems and verbal expressions on the one hand and recent borrowings on the other makes the Mediterranean region a particularly interesting laboratory for the analysis of multimodal communicative acts. The distribution patterns of emblems depend on factors such as historical origin, geographical spread, and their relation to verbal items. With regard to the last factor, some emblems seem to have been created from idiomatic expressions, but many others have a clear cultural basis, and are not so closely linked to spoken language.