Volume 21, Issue 2-3
  • ISSN 1568-1475
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This paper investigates gesture as a resource for marking politeness-related meanings. We asked 14 Korean and 14 Catalan participants to retell a cartoon, once to an unknown superior and once to a close friend. Participants in both languages curtail gestures when interacting with a socially distant superior. Speakers of both languages produced fewer gestures when addressing the superior, reduced their gesture space, decreased the encoding of , and reduced the use of character-viewpoint gestures. We see the decrease in gesture frequency and the less frequent encoding of as indicators of lower levels of iconicity when talking with status superiors. Curtailing gesture marks a less playful communicative context, and a more serious and deferential persona. Altogether, our research speaks to the importance of politeness in gesture production, and the social nature of gestures in human communication.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): audience design; iconicity; perspective; pragmatics; social deixis; social distance
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