Moving past the lexical affiliate with a frame-based analysis of gesture meaning

Laparle, S. (2023). Moving past the lexical affiliate with a frame-based analysis of gesture meaning. In W. Pouw, J. Trujillo, H. R. Bosker, L. Drijvers, M. Hoetjes, J. Holler, S. Kadava, L. Van Maastricht, E. Mamus, & A. Ozyurek (Eds.), Gesture and Speech in Interaction (GeSpIn) Conference. doi:10.17617/2.3527218.
Interpreting the meaning of co-speech gesture often involves
identifying a gesture’s ‘lexical affiliate’, the word or phrase to
which it most closely relates (Schegloff 1984). Though there is
work within gesture studies that resists this simplex mapping of
meaning from speech to gesture (e.g. de Ruiter 2000; Kendon
2014; Parrill 2008), including an evolving body of literature on
recurrent gesture and gesture families (e.g. Fricke et al. 2014; Müller 2017), it is still the lexical affiliate model that is most ap-
parent in formal linguistic models of multimodal meaning(e.g.
Alahverdzhieva et al. 2017; Lascarides and Stone 2009; Puste-
jovsky and Krishnaswamy 2021; Schlenker 2020). In this work,
I argue that the lexical affiliate should be carefully reconsidered
in the further development of such models.
In place of the lexical affiliate, I suggest a further shift
toward a frame-based, action schematic approach to gestural
meaning in line with that proposed in, for example, Parrill and
Sweetser (2004) and Müller (2017). To demonstrate the utility
of this approach I present three types of compositional gesture
sequences which I call spatial contrast, spatial embedding, and
cooperative abstract deixis. All three rely on gestural context,
rather than gesture-speech alignment, to convey interactive (i.e.
pragmatic) meaning. The centrality of gestural context to ges-
ture meaning in these examples demonstrates the necessity of
developing a model of gestural meaning independent of its in-
tegration with speech.
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