Why study metaphor and gesture?

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There are numerous ways to research gestures which represent abstract notions, and this paper begins with an overview of some of them which are represented in the current volume – from various semiotic approaches to experimental psychological studies. Then particular attention is given to metaphoric gestures studied as expressions of conceptual metaphors. This line of research has shown some of the similarities and differences between verbal and gestural metaphoric expression. The paper surveys some of the evidence provided from gesture studies which supports the view of metaphor as a cognitive phenomenon, and the notion that thought, even for abstract topics, is grounded in embodied experience. However, the study of gesture also raises some questions for research on conceptual metaphors and how it is conducted. Topics discussed include how one identifies metaphoric expressions, what counts as evidence of conceptual metaphors, how one labels them, and how gesture highlights the graded nature of metaphoricity.


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