Where do nouns come from?
  • ISSN 1568-1475
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9773
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This paper examines naturally occurring gestures produced in descriptions of numbers and quantities in television newscasts. The results of our analysis show that gestures reveal the metaphorical and spatial nature of numerical thinking. That is, speakers’ hands mimic known spatial mappings between space and quantity, including horizontal mappings (smaller quantities left, larger quantities right), vertical mappings (smaller quantities down, larger quantities up) and size-based mappings (smaller quantities “small”, larger quantities “large”). Speakers frequently switch between these different spatial mappings, and they sometimes combine them within the same gesture. This points to the flexibility of how metaphors can become expressed in gesture, and how domains such as number and quantity can be conceptualized through multiple compatible source domains.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): mathematics; metaphor; number; quantity; TV news
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