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Iconicity in different types of gestures

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The paper presents a framework for classifying gestures in terms of different parameters, and shows that the parameter of iconicity cuts across that of cognitive construction, which distinguishes codified gestures — those represented in memory as stable signal–meaning pairs — from creative ones — those invented on the spot on the basis of a few generative rules. While creative gestures are necessarily iconic, because they can be understood only thanks to their iconicity, codified gestures can be iconic too. A model for the generation of iconic gestures is presented, according to which, to create a new gesture, people select the features of the meaning to imitate in terms of their distinctiveness, ease of representation and ontological type. Finally, some principles for measuring the iconicity of gestures of Hearers and Signs of the Deaf are illustrated, thus outlining the continuity of iconic devices between creative and codified gestures.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2008-04-01

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