Semiotic layering through gesture and intonation: A case study of complementary and supplementary multimodality in political speech

Norma Mendoza-Denton, Stefanie Jannedy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

Face-to-face communication is multimodal. In face-to-face interaction scholars can observe the interplay of several "semiotic layers," modalities of information such as syntax, discourse structure, gesture, and intonation. The authors explore the role of gesture in structuring and aligning information in spoken discourse through a study of (1) the complementary co-occurrence of gestural apices and intonational pitch accents and (2) the supplementary co-occurrence of metaphorical gestures and elements in discourse. In the naturally occurring political speech situation the authors examine, metaphorical spatialization through gesture is key in indexing contextual relationships among the speaker, the politicians or government, and other external forces. The use of gestures simultaneously aligns with intonation and metaphorically manipulates political entities in space. Discourse context and social meaning are thus constructed together through the spoken and gestural channels and are supported through fine-grained structural alignment between intonation and gesture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-299
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of English Linguistics
Volume39
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2011

Keywords

  • embodiment
  • gesture
  • intonation
  • multimodality
  • political speech
  • public sphere
  • semiotics
  • spoken discourse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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