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Pointing the Yoruba way

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This paper gives a description of Yoruba pointing behavior, especially pointing as it relates to people in interaction contexts. First, it is shown that pointing is regulated by socio-cultural factors. Secondly, it is shown that non-manual points such as lip points are complex points which use the gaze as the primary pointer; other head-area gestures ‘switch on’ the deictic function of the gaze to pinpoint the specific referent in the discourse space. This paper also describes a form of pointing, termed ‘eye-click’, in which the eyes have both the function of gazing and ‘switching on’ the deictic vector of gaze. Thirdly, some pointing practices in sub-Saharan Africa are examined and compared.
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Keywords: gaze; pointing; social-cultural factors

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-10-22

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