Volume 13, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1568-1475
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9773
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This article examines the relation between ideophones and gestures in a corpus of everyday discourse in Siwu, a richly ideophonic language spoken in Ghana. The overall frequency of ideophone-gesture couplings in everyday speech is lower than previously suggested, but two findings shed new light on the relation between ideophones and gesture. First, discourse type makes a difference: ideophone-gesture couplings are more frequent in narrative contexts, a finding that explains earlier claims, which were based not on everyday language use but on elicited narratives. Second, there is a particularly strong coupling between ideophones and one type of gesture: iconic gestures. This coupling allows us to better understand iconicity in relation to the affordances of meaning and modality. Ultimately, the connection between ideophones and iconic gestures is explained by reference to the depictive nature of both. Ideophone and iconic gesture are two aspects of the process of depiction.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): composite utterances; depiction; gesture; iconic gesture; iconicity; ideophones
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