2. Gesture Speech, and Space

2.1 Gestural Typologies and Language

For ordinary interactants, gesturing is part of talking, and one learns to do it as part of learning to talk. The organization of gesture is inextricably related to linguistic structure, as many studies of the relative timing of gesture and associated speech have shown (e.g., Birdwhistle 1952 & 1963, Kendon 1988, Schegloff 1984). McNeill (1985 & 1992) bases an entire psycholinguistic program on an argued conceptual codependence between gesture and speech. There may be evolutionary connections between speech and gesture, since language has evolved in the context of face-to-face interlocutors who share a place and a moment. Armstrong, Stokoe & Wilcox (1995) find in structural elements of gesture the roots of syntax. An apparent chain of development also links spontaneous gesticulation (perhaps grounded in early motor-activity, e.g., reaching and grasping [Carter 1975]) to spontaneous signs, and given appropriate communicative conditions, to systems of home sign (see, for example, Goldin-Meadow 1991), alternate sign-languages (Kendon 1988), sign-language pigin, and ultimately to full-blown (sign)language (Kegl, Senghas, & Coppola in press).

Moreover, at the level of functional interdependence, deictic gestures both substitute for and supplement spoken deictics (see Marslen-Wilson et al. 1982); Levelt et al. 1985). Several analytic consequences follow. First, as part of the interactive repertoire available to interlocutors, (11) gesture-with-speech is a vehicle of communication not only for propositional purposes-- interchanging "information"-- but as part of the coordinated social action whose characteristic domain is ordinary conversation. Second, the indexical properties of gestures are potentially as central to their import and effectiveness as are those of words, since both word and gesture conjointly index the spatio-temporal context of the speech event.

Typologies of gesture often involve two broad cross-cutting dimensions: representationality, and convention or autonomy. The first dimension has to do with whether and how the bodily movements that accompany speech depict or represent the referential content of what is being conveyed by an utterance. Some gestures seem tailored to the "meaning" of speech, via various semiotic modalities, whereas others, for example, appear to be more closely aligned to the rhythm of talk. (12)

2.1.1 Convention

The dimension of autonomy or convention is captured in what has come to be known as Kendon's continuum (Kendon 1983 & 1988b, McNeill 1987), shown in Figure 8. The issue is the degree to which gestural movements are ad hoc fleeting creations of the moment, inextricably tied to concurrent speech, as opposed to more or less conventionalized, autonomous, "language-like" signaling devices in their own right, independent of verbalization, possibly both "glossable" and "quotable" (Kendon 1990a).

Gesticulation --> "Language-like" gestures --> Pantomime --> Emblems --> Sign languages.

Figure 8: Kendon's Continuum

From left to right, motions become relatively more emancipated from simultaneous verbalization; such characteristics as temporal linearity and compositionality (their ability to be combined in sequences) increase; and gestures become more standardized, in terms both of formation and conventionalized meaning. (13)

The notion of conventionality in gesture is too complex to treat here. There are surely elements of gestural form, even in "pointing," that make the line between symbolic (conventional) and indexical modes of signaling problematic. (14) However, a central and striking element of "conventionality" in GY gesture is the apparent "fixity" of direction that accompanies pointing. Gestures seem to be tied to the system of cardinal quadrants. When a gesture portrays location or motion, it does so in one of a variety of ways that preserve cardinal direction.

Although this added gestural convention may seem exotic, especially to English speakers whose pointing habits may be spectacularly unregimented by such rules, one reflex of such conventionality is probably widespread. I refer to the use of external geography to talk about, e.g., the time of day, as in the two following examples, one from Australia and the other from Mexico.

GC, a GY man in his late forties, tells a mythological story about a boy who escapes the mass drowning of his tribe when an island on which they were fishing turns out to be a giant stingray which decides to dive. The boy swims to shore and then goes from camp to camp recounting the demise of his tribesmen. GC sits facing west. When he comes to the part of the story where the boy arrives at a distant camp, he gestures [Video 6] as in Figure 9 , saying ngalan yarrba guwaar "the sun was thus in the west," to show that it was by then late in the afternoon. He apparently "points at" an imagined afternoon sun sinking in the western sky.

In a similar way, but using a very different pointing style, my Zinacantec compadre describes returning to a place where he had left a sick and dying horse. He is also, as it happens, seated facing roughly west. When he says, "it was getting late" [using a verb mal which means literally 'set' or 'spill'] (see {6}), he glances up at the place the sun would have been. (See Figure 10.) He exploits the local environment to provide a kind of gestural metaphor for time, apparently relying on the true cardinal direction, or the immediate geography, to evoke the afternoon sun.

{6}. Setel
12 ju:ta mal xa k'ak'al u:n
Damn, it was already getting late.
9. Face up, gaze to Western horizon. {sunset}

[Video 7]

Figure 10: "It was getting late."

Nonetheless, it is certainly true that it is not a gestural convention in my own dialect of English that pointing gestures be so oriented, perhaps not even to talk about sunset or sunrise. Here then is a somewaht unexpected overlay to "conventionality" in gesture not captured by Kendon's continuum.

2.2 Iconicity and Representationality

McNeill's typology of gestures relies on a version of the Peircean notion of iconicity, or motivation by similarity. Iconic gestures are said to depict (by virtue of resembling) objects, events, and aspects of events in narrative. (15) "Deictic" or "pointing gestures," on the other hand, involve a fundamentally different principle. They are not representational in the same way as iconic gestures but instead act as Peircean indices, sucessfully managing to pick our their referents only by virtue of a shared spatio-temporal proximity with them. (16) Indeed, pointing gestures are the canonical and for many theorists the ontologically primeval indexical signs. (It is not for nothing that we generally point with our index fingers, though we may use other body parts.) (17)

Reference is characteristically anchored in the speech event through such indexicals as personal and demonstrative pronouns, tenses, deictic locatives like 'here' and 'there' and so on. However, according to the standard account, one can refer as well (if not better) by showing as by saying. Accordingly deictic gestures can replace rather than merely accompany referring expressions. In fact, Levelt et al. (1985) consider it distinctive of certain deictic gestures that "they can be obligatory in deictic utterances" (Levelt et al. (1985), p. 134). (18)

Deictic terms like 'there' or 'that' . . . require the speaker to make some form of pointing gesture, for example, by nodding the head, visibly directing the gaze, turning the body, or moving arm and hand in the appropriate direction (ibid., emphasis added).
But which is "the appropriate direction"? As Wittgenstein (1958) points out at some length, ostension itself relies on a complex practice-- or as Wittgenstein calls it, a "custom." There is the famous example of the sign-post in Wittgenstein's discussion of rules.

A rule stands there like a sign-post.--Does the sign-post leave no doubt about the way I have to go? Does it show which direction I am to take when I have passed it; whether along the road or the footpath or across country? But where is it said which way I am to follow it; whether in the direction of its finger or (e.g.,) in the opposite one? (19)
The direction of a pointing gesture can, as in ASL, start out as arbitrary but once established become both significant and enduring. Bellugi and Klima (1982:301) describe some of the syntactic and semantic functions of pointing in ASL, as follows:

"If a referent (third person) is actually present in the discourse context between signer and addressee, specific indexical reference is made by pointing to that referent. But for non-present referents that are introduced by the speaker into the discourse context only 'verbally,' there is another system of indexing. This consists of introducing a nominal and setting up a point in space associated with it; pointing to that specific locus later in the discourse clearly 'refers back' to that nominal, even after many intervening signs . . ."
A pointing gesture, like any indexical sign, can only function by projecting a surrounding context or space--let's call this its "gesture space"-- within which it can "point." As Silverstein has pointed out,

"[E]very sign insofar as it signals indexically . . . serves as the point-from-which, or semiotic origin of a presuppositionally/entailing projection of whatever is to be understood as context" (Silverstein 1992:6).
Note that this is a conceptual projection; one points in "real" physical space, to be sure, but pointing conjures up a space oriented and populated by conceptual entities. How far an indexical sign projects, how wide or detailed the projection is, are central empirical questions. In this same vein, Silverstein goes on to caution that:

"[t]here is no necessary connection between, nor even necessary coherence of, the various indexical projections-of-context logically implied by the semiotic fact of indexicality associable with any collection of signal forms: each occurrent signal form indexes its own context of occurrence . . ." (Silverstein 1992:6-7).
We are thus first reminded that not all spaces, gesturally projected or otherwise, are equal. As philosophers have been at pains to argue, what there is to point at is (at least ontologically) a variable thing. When an interactant "points" "at" "something," how structured and how detailed a space that something entails (or that pointing presupposes) is neither constant nor fixed in advance. Moreover, a sequence of pointing gestures does not necessarily produce a coherent space, within which contiguous gestures may jointly be understood to point. Any coherence to the space delimited by such a sequence of indexical signs is itself a projection (of the indexical fact of the contiguity of the gestures), and thus the result of interpretive efforts. How such a "gesture space" is built up is at least partly a matter of the indexical modes involved in the gestures that engender the space.

2.3 Pointing Gestures

2.3.1 Presupposing/Entailing

Pointing gestures, like other indexical signs, may be placed along a continuum from relatively presupposing to relatively creative or entailing (Silverstein 1976b). Where a present and "directly" perceivable referent is the target of a pointing gesture, it is relatively presupposable: its existence, as well as its location and other salient characteristics, may be taken for granted in the speech context. You can exploit presupposable features of the actual location of a co-present referent, thus rendering the interpretability of your gesture dependent on those presupposed features. (In the absence of other information, your interlocutor must share knowledge of geographical and perhaps other relevant facts if she is to identify your gestures' referents correctly.) A gesture that "points at" such a presupposable entity simply inserts it, and its relevant features, into the current universe of discourse.

{7} Boat2
1:......!..... 2:.....
6 Ho- ngay- y'know-I was a young fellow ngayu you know =
1sgNOM 1sNOM
Ho-I was a young fellow, I--you know--
1: R: relaxed "bent L", up from lap, circular movement out an in to chest, with bent index finger, stroke across chest.
2: slight head shake and shrug.

Figure 11 Video 8

"I was a young fellow," says JB, pointing to his own chest (see Figure 11). He is talking about his carefree attitude on realizing that he had just defied by swimming to shore from the sinking boat. (By contrast, when they reached the shore his companion, a devout and elderly Lutheran, immediately knelt down in prayer to give thanks for their deliverance.) JB's gesture draws upon local space: the immediate environs of the speech event, within which deixis presupposes (usually observable) targets, such as local objects, geographical features, and in this case, a central speech participant, the speaker himself. Such a space is usually "anchored" (especially in GY) because the presupposable loci of such perceivable entities are immediately given in relation to the current origo, the here-and-now of the interlocutors. (20) You must locate the things you point at where they actually are. Such a situation is perhaps the primeval home that theorists imagine for deictic gestures.

This relatively presupposing strategy for pointing gestures may be adopted for narrated spaces as well. Let us return to the capsized boat, when the two men still faced a long swim through rough seas. JB, the younger of the two men, was worried that if he swam too close to his older companion, the latter would panic and drag both down together. The closest beach was three and a half miles to the south. JB describes the situation with a sweeping pointing gesture to his left (Figure 12)-- that is, south. He says, "You couldn't see the beach to the south; (it was) three mile and a half" (fragment 8, lines 49-50).

{8} Boat2
49 you- couldn't see jibarra yuwaal (.8)
South-R beach+ABS

You couldn't see the beach to the south (over the waves).
L: changes to very loose "l," points out SSW; gaze to audience.

50 well mi- three mile n a half
1: L: "l," flip downwards and out W to pointing gesture; then to waist at rest.

Figure 12 Video 9

JB, sitting at modern Hopevale, but narrating a scene in which he treads water in the roiling seas, indicates the three and a half miles to the beach at Bala by pointing not in some arbitrary direction, as I venture to think I might do, and not northeast to where Bala actually lies from where he sits, but south-- seemingly calculating from his narrated perspective near the capsized boat. He thus presupposes his interlocutors' knowledge of the geography he is describing and their ability to transpose themselves, with him, to a narrated origo from which can be projected known (that is, presupposable) landmarks-- the named spot on the beach, the intervening reefs, and so on.

2.3.2 Relatively Creative Pointing Gestures

Other pointing gestures-- often those directed "towards" non-present "objects"-- can by contrast be relatively creative. When your gestures themselves help create their referents, entail their existence for discursive purposes, you can put those referents where you want them. Indeed, it may be that the "pointing" gesture depends in no way on the location of a referent. The location may be discursively irrelevant, and the "pointing" gesture may have only an individuating function: here is one thing (not another, not two, etc.). In such a case it may not be necessary to refer again to the same entity, so it doesn't really matter where you pointed "at" it. If you do have to refer to again to such an entity, the initial baptismal gesture has established a locus to which you can return. If there is any significance to the spatial relationships between two referents so established (for example, how far apart they are, or even in which directions they lie with respect to one another), the creatively signaled initial positions can be more or less carefully drawn, but no logical necessity determines which of a variety of analogical relations may hold between their loci.

In {10.1}, a Zinacantec man is telling how he once met a supernatural demon called j'ik'al, 'blackman.' Being young and brash at the time, the man tried to grab the creature, which ran away to hide. The narrator illustrates where the j'ik'al fled, just a short distance away (Figure 13), where he tried to hide, behind the cross in the man's house patio (Figure 14), both times using pointing gestures. The conversation is actually taking place rather far from the village where the confrontation occurred. The locations indicated by the man's gestures appear to be creative choices of the moment, not derived from the actual geography of the man's village, of which both he and his interlocutor are evidently aware. (21) Thus the pointing gesture in Figure 13 appears arbitrarily to create a locus for the hiding demon, a locus that is then taken up and gesturally elaborated when the house cross is introduced into the discourse.

{10.1} j'ik'al1
40 a; ba j -tzak
go(AUX) 1E-grab
I went to grab it.

42 a; i -0 -jatav un
CP-3A-run_away PT
It ran away.
1. Turn face to right and sight to spot some distance away, then return to front
2. Right arm extends out in point to R (SW), then back to rest at knee.

Figure 13 Video 10.1

As he describes how the blackman tried to flee, at line 42, the speaker appears to survey the local scene to gauge how far the demon ran. He seems to point to his right to hint at the distance and position adopted by the blackman after he tried to grab it. In his next utterance the narrator establishes a more definite locus for his supernatural antagonist.

{10.2} j'ik'al (cont.)
3..... 4.................a....b
44 a; te i -0 -bat yo' pat krus -e
there CP-3A-go where back cross-CL
It went there behind the cross.
3. Look quickly out R again, then back
4. R arm lifts out R and slightly to front, (a) circles anticlockwise, index finger slightly down, (b) moving all slightly L and held

......5............... 6..........................
46 a; k'al yo' krus ali te vechel krus ta
as_far_as where cross uh there sitting_on_base cross PREP
(It went) there to sit by the cross where...
5. R arm still extended, fingers drop to expose back of hand, in anticlockwise circling motion
6. Circling motion of R hand repeated, then arm withdrawn to rest.

47 ch -av-il onox li j -krus k'al tana
ICP-2E-see nonetheless ART 1E-cross as_far_as afterwards
Where my cross is still today, you know.

Figure 14 Video 10.2

The gesture depicted in Figure 14 combines both the oriented pointing that locates the cross relative to the place where the j'ik'al originally fled (in Figure 13), with a hand shape (and circling motion) evidently intended to convey the spatial relationship encoded in the Tzotzil expression ta pat krus, 'behind the cross.' The gestures here seem literally to create their referents in order to populate the illustrative graphic space.

2.3.3 Gesture Spaces

There is thus a choice between two opposed strategies for constructing indexical gestures. The two strategies involve different principles for calibrating the immediate local space of the speech event with the gesture space where the conceptual entities "pointed to" reside. In relatively presupposing pointing gestures the location pointed at can be presupposed or derived from coordinating the space referred to (i.e., the space conceptually containing the referent) with the immediate space (where the gesture is physically performed). In relatively creative pointing gestures a location is selected in the local scene, as it were, arbitrarily. The gesture "creatively" entails the referent's existence within the referent space, and it imposes a structure on that space-- including a location for the referent where such location is relevant-- with certain consequences or possibilities for subsequent reference.

There is a further consequence of the choice between these two pointing strategies. Suppose that one explicit aim of a stretch of discourse is to establish relations, spatial and otherwise, between referents. An arbitrary map, populated by means of relatively creative deictic acts of reference, may produce arbitrary interrelationships. Or it may invoke principles other than, for example, the geometries produced by "actual" geographic location. Referent X may (in the real world) stand north of referent Y, but I may put my "pointed-at" X and Y in some other relationship. (I may, for example, place X to the right of Y, or put it higher, or lower; and there may be no need for a single, consistent solution.) On the other hand, a gestural map that presupposes actual geography can directly exploit actual, presupposable, geographic relations, although certain principles of transformation or rotation, zooming, and resolution may need to be invoked both to keep things straight and to achieve the required level of detail. (22)

However, choosing between relatively presupposing and creative strategies is presumably not itself an arbitrary matter. It may depend on a practice or a further convention between interlocutors, or, indeed, a communicative tradition, part of the "culture" of a linguistic community. My own dialect of American English favors relatively creative solutions for referential gestures, "locating" referents more or less wherever they happen conveniently to fall. For GY speakers by convention the solution is highly presupposing. It was the suspicion that Zinacantecs, despite having little overt linguistic support for precise orientation in spoken Tzotzil, also were relatively presupposing in the orientation of their pointing gestures that prompted this closer look at Zinacantec pointing gestures.

Haviland (1993) distinguishes several different sorts of "gesture space," which I may summarize briefly here.

(1) The physical environs of the speech event constitute a local space which includes the observable features of the immediate environment. These features are presupposable and, in the GY case, centrally include cardinal directions.

(2) Narrated spaces (that is, referent spaces created to encompass narrated events seen from some narrated perspective) are laminated over local space of the speech event, possibly importing the latter space's cardinal directions (or other presupposable spatial features) where relevant, but substituting for the here-and-now a narratable there-and-then. Narrated entities can in turn be denoted by indexical devices, including "pointing" gestures, whose referents must be mapped from the one space onto the other. By drawing the narrated events literally on top of the narrating moment, such mapping pulls the past into the present, and puts the protagonists before the interlocutors' very eyes.

In the sense that both such local and narrated spaces presuppose cardinal directions, in GY discourse, I have characterized them as anchored-- anchored, that is, by the actual facts of cardinal orientation.

(3) The speech event also establishes an interactional space, defined by the configuration and orientation of the bodies of the interactants (see Kendon 1990b). Interactional space usually comprises the intersection of the hemispheres of action and attention that project forward from the bodies of the interlocutors, especially the speaker. This space has a privileged interactional character, being conjointly available to interlocutors for referential pointing and other gesticulation. Interlocutors in a sense create this space by virtue of their interaction; they do not find it in the local surround but carry it with them.

Although interactional space in principle can also come with cardinal directions attached, Haviland (1993) shows that even in GY discourse it is here that gestures are frequently emancipated from the compass. This is the area within which a speaker frequently locates "absent" referents creatively, and refers to them in subsequent gestures. Interactional space may thus be unanchored or free from fixed cardinal orientation.

(4) When narrative recounts scenes of interaction, narrators may also quote "free" gestures, thus invoking narrated interactional space: a space in which narrated interaction is located. If interactional space is freed from cardinal directions, then narrated interactional space may be similarly emancipated.

To repeat, in this parlance a "space" is simply the projected spatial context for an indexical sign. For present purposes, the signs of interest are the loosely defined "pointing gestures" which, one would suppose, require at the very least spatially locatable referents. Since gestures flash by evanescently, so do their projected spaces. Thus the different spaces I have proposed-- really complementary dimensions of projected spaces which may, in fact, be laminated one on top of another-- are swiftly instantiated and sometimes just as swiftly discarded in the interactive flow, though rarely does an entire space disappear without leaving some usable residue. It is the multiplicity of gesture spaces, and the shifting between them, that belies the alleged simplicity of "pointing" gestures as primitive referential devices. It is also what makes pointing gestures rich evidence about spatial knowledge-- social, interactive, and individual.

Distinguishing these different kinds of gesture space allows us to formulate an important analytical discovery about GY conversation. We have already isolated a central element of gestural "convention" for GY speakers: that gestures portraying location and motion are oriented by the cardinal directions (or anchored) in local space and narrated space. However, in interactional space (both immediate and narrated) gestures tend to be free, that is, not anchored by the compass.

Consider how JB describes the long trek from Elim, where he and his shipwrecked companion were given an emergency meal by some relatives, to Cape Bedford, where the stern Bavarian Missionary was waiting impatiently for the boat to return. The west-to-east trajectory from Elim to Cape Bedford (see Map 2) is in its gestural representation directionally oriented. However, the "arrival" (and, indeed, the "setting out") gestures seem to be conventionally emancipated from the compass; direction and motion, normally "blended," are in these gestures decoupled.

In the 1980 telling, JB is facing west as he talks. The sequences that follows is a particularly rich illustration of several of the points I have been making about the complementarity of speech and gesture and about the morphology of gesture itself. JB first traces, in the space in front of him, a miniature map of the territory whose traversal he describes, attaching times to places. (Consult Map 2 again to see the locations: Bala lies north of Elim, which in turns lies well west of Cape Bedford.)

{11} Boat2: Bala, to Elim, to Cape Bedford, 1980 version
3:..........a................b........ 4:.........
196 bala ngali guwaar nhayun 6 o clock ( . )
1duNOM WEST-R that+ABS
We had set out from Bala in the West about 6 o'clock.
3: R: "S" hand to "G" hand, pointing W; at (a) "C" hand with thumb up, cupped in towards E twice; at (b) "angle B" upwards
4: R: two quickly cupped "C" towards self=E.

198 j; walk manaathi might Elim might be 9 o clock (..)
We set out walking, might have come to Elim about 9 o'clock.
(a) R: "G" up pointing W; (b) moves S to mid stretch, points down slightly; (c) palm turns upwards to slightly bent "5" pushes out towards audience.

Figure 15 Video 11

His pointing gestures move from a locus that seems to represent Bala to the West (as seen, perhaps, from a hypothetical vantage point still on the sinking boat) at line 196.a, straight south at 196.b to a point that seems to represent Elim. He traces the trajectory that he and his companion walked down the beach directly in the air in front of him. Quickly, at line 199, he switches to a description of the seemingly interminable walk from Elim, across dense bush and sandhill, to the distant Cape Bedford Mission. Because he sits facing west, he must portray this easterly trajectory up and behind his body.

199 . . nagaalu nagaalu yi: ( . )
We kept going East and East.
R: up in "bent L," beats downwards at (a), rises to apex above right ear at (b) pointing upwards; head bends down and finger sweeps front and down to point at ground at (c).

Figure 16: "Eastward, eastward. . ."

There are two blended elements of GY conventional talk here. The first appears in the verbal channel: the elongated vowels of nagaa:lu, 'to the remote east' and the particle yii:, literally 'here,' a standard rhetorical device for conveying distance (or long duration). The second conventional element is the elaborate raised gesture, starting with a miniature circling motion, here interestingly performed towards the rear (see Figure 16). Throughout GY gestural practice, raised pointing gestures seem also to represent distance, as though sighting far above the horizon will project an arc that terminates a long way off. (23)

However, JB appears to arrive, gesturally, at Cape Bedford with the movement illustrated in Figure 17 . (Note from transcript line 199 that this gesture, shown as c, is silent; JB makes no spoken mention of arriving at the mission station.) Here, he moves directly from the cardinally oriented trajectory, represented gesturally as a long way east, to the point of arrival which he inserts squarely into the interactional space in front of him.

It is again instructive to examine JB's second telling of this same part of the story, in 1982. In Levinson's film, you will remember, JB is sitting facing north.

{12} Elim to CB, 1982 telling
194 well from elim-ngun nagaalu
Elim-ABL East-L
Well, from Elim towards the East...
L: "B" spread out and palm up, bring in to self E at (a), out again, then (b), sweep (into "bent C") to E and return to rest.

195 r; =cape bedford
to Cape Bedford.

196 j; =cape bedford
to Cape Bedford.
L: open "B" palm E, up N above head, which drops and looks down ("distance"?).

Figure 18 Video 12

He again describes the long walk from Elim eastward, tracing the path from west to east (i.e., given his current position, from left to right). Note that at line 195 the interlocutor reads the externalized map and supplies the name of the missing destination-- Cape Bedford-- which JB then accepts.

What follows is a further silent gesture, shown at line 196 of {12}, also performed in interactive space and not anchored by the cardinal directions. Unlike the "arrival" gesture of Figure 17, this time he seems to be illustrating "setting out" (with the lowered head, slight grimace, and raised hand trajectory that conventionally seems to add "...on a long and arduous trip" (24)). Here, though, Figure 19 illustrates that the trip as sketched in both word and gesture is to the east, the "setting out" is performed directly in front of the speaker.

2.4 Mental Map or Externalized Mnemonic?

The notion of mental map implies an internalized conceptual structure, abstracted perhaps from externalized ("real") space, but subject to various abstract manipulations and characterizable through linguistic categories. Investigating the associated linguistic devices should elucidate the structure and properties of the representations.

The interactive practices of Mayan Indians and Australian Aborigines suggest that although physical ("real") space can be the object of linguistic and cognitive processing, it also may serve as a tool for such processing, a medium or prop upon which cognition may be externalized. In particular, conversations with people who are actively trying to construct (perhaps to achieve agreement about) understandings of space suggest that space itself can be a mnemonic, an aide memoire through which knowledge of land, terrain, and territory can be (re)constructed and (re)calculated. The gesture spaces of conversation constitute a kind of interactively available, indeed, interactively constructed, analog computational device for working out spatial and other sorts of relations. Gestures, which directly exploit this spatial medium, consequently assume a special importance in such conversations.

2.4.1 Gesture and GY Land Rights

JB told his shipwreck story in the early 1980s, when thoughts of Aboriginal landrights in Queensland were only distant whipsers. JB came from a generation of people whose attention to the linguistic details of cardinal direction reflected the insistent tutoring of "heathen" elders and a close connection still maintained by people of his generation between land and self. It was these older people who taught me what I know about GY and about the social history of the community. By the late 1980s, however, JB and many of his cohort were dead, and the linguistic practices of most Hopevale people-- not to mention their relations to the land-- were changing radically. Young adults in 1989 expressed doubts about the exact meanings of directional terms (25), and their interest in traditional estates seemed minimal.

However, since the early 1990s Aborigines throughout the Australian state of Queensland, including Hopevale residents, have been involved in a struggle for land rights whose parameters were dramatically changed by recent Queensland legislation. In 1992, and again in 1995, when I visited Hopevale to investigate the cognitive concomitants of the GY cardinal direction system, most of my time in the community was devoted to consulting on "tradition": discussing with suddenly interested parties genealogy, custom about land, borders, place names, and, in general, language about the territory. It was in such conversations that I began to understand the mnemonic function of gesture in (re)constructing knowledge about land.

We have seen that older speakers like JB showed great (if quite unconscious) precision and care in orienting their gestures-- comparable to a equally exquisite care in the use of spoken directional terms. The same sort of care can occasionally be observed in the speech of much younger people, even those who liberally mix English into their GY, or who almost entirely eliminate spoken references to the cardinal directional system. One such younger man, GC, does not use spoken directionals, for example, when retelling books or video scenarios, although older GY speakers frequently do. When it comes to his own real country, however, he tries to maintain careful orientation, in both word and gesture. (26) GC is currently involved in a struggle to reclaim land rights over an area that his been expropriated not only by the Government but also by other Aboriginal people. As a result, even otherwise innocuous interactions have been transformed into proving grounds for his traditional territorial claims. Here is a particularly vivid illustration of how his use of space and gesture seems to act as an explicit mnemonic to resolve a word search (in this case, for the appropriate GY directional term). GC is a fluent GY speaker, but one who has spent many years away from the community speaking English. He is thus somewhat out of practice with his native language, though for political reasons he is trying to cultivate its use in appropriate contexts.

He describes a site on Lizard Island, part of the traditional clan territory at Cape Flattery which he has inherited from his patriline. The site is named after the barb of a giant stingray. According to tradition, it was also the spot where men of his lineage should be christened so as to insure their success at hunting. GC has been recounting the story so far from the perspective of the island itself, which lies well east of what was the mainland Cape Flattery camp. GC sits with his back to the east facing his interlocutor in the west. He has come to the point in his story where the ancestral figure who speared the giant stingray now turns to the mainland to await the birth of male children who will be named for the stingray barb. At line 4 of fragment 13, GC points clearly to the west (see Figure 20), at the same time saying first "to the east," then "to the north," and finally, with a confirmatory nod at line 6, "to the west"-- the word which, to judge by his oriented gesture, he was searching for all the time.

{13}. Gordon2a
1 g; well ngathi nhaamu=-=:unh
" grandfather that -ABL
Well, then my grandfather . . .

2 nyulu said well alright
3SgNOM *** " ***
He said, "Well, alright."
1: RH up in open C, rises to mid chest at a, drops at b.

2:....... 3:......
3 ngathu ganggal yii nhangu
1sgGEN child here 3sGEN
My child here--
2: gaze up W staring

4 nagaar
in the east--
3: RH starts up, two index fingers pointing, W at a, high W at b.

5 gunggarra
in the north--
3 (cont.) RH circles into body and drops to rest at c.

6 guwaar . balga=-=:ya
west+R make -REF+NPAST
in the west, (my child) will be born.
4: Gaze high west, head rises slightly staring and falls.

7 m; Cape Bedford?
At Cape Bedford?

8 g; ngayu-
"I ---"
5: RH rises to chest height, palm in, fingers out S, circles clockwise and up

[Video 13]

Figure 20: "West (or is it east?) to Cape Flattery"

GC's interlocutor, himself presupposing the actual geographical relations involved, is confused by GC's words, and he hazards two incorrect guesses (at lines 7 and 10) about the place GC is talking about. Both GC's subsequent pointing gesture at line 9:6 (see Figure 21), and his verbal confirmation at line 11, shows that GC was perfectly clear about the geographic relationship between Lizard Island and Cape Flattery even if he could not quite find the correct word. It is easy to imagine that his own hand, mnemonically pointing west, helped him with the word search.

..... 6.........7
9 gaari
6. Segues into RH indexes point, palm face in, up high W, back to rest.
7. Gaze meets M, slight nod.

10 m; McIvor
At McIvor?

11 g; dingaal
At Cape Flattery.

Figure 21: "At Cape Flattery"

2.5 Tzotzil Narrative and Oriented Gestures

Let me now return to the pointing gestures of Tzotzil-speaking Indian peasants in the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico. Somewhat to my surprise-- after many years of living in Zinacantan-- I realized that Zinacantecs, much like my GY friends, display precise bodily orientations to space despite the comparative lack of linguistic support for such precision.

There are, in Tzotzil, only rather underdeveloped devices for talking about cardinal directions, when compared with the morphologically hypertrophied cardinal direction terms in GY. Indeed, although the ancient Maya are celebrated for their calendrical achievements and astronomical expertise, modern day Zinacantecs have rather paltry lexical or grammatical resources for talking about cardinal directions at all. East and west are simply "place where the sun rises" and "...sets," or-- reflecting an overall inclination of the territory dominated by the central Chiapas highlands (on the east), and the lowland Grijalva valley (on the west)-- simply ak'ol, 'up, upland' and olon, 'low, lowland' (de Leon 1994). Talk about direction is dominated by local geography rather than by, say, celestial absolutes, (27) and the overall frequency of directional terms in ordinary conversation is miniscule in comparison, say, to the use of GY cardinal direction roots.

It may thus seem somewhat surprising that Zinacantec Tzotzil speakers appear to maintain a division in gesture space that parallels (albeit in a relatively slipshod way) the division between directionally anchored local space and free interactional space we have seen for GY. Finding that Tzotziles, too, have their anchored spaces pushes one to search for the conceptual support that using such spaces in gesture might require.

2.5.1 Routes and Mental Maps

Peasant agriculturists whose livelihood depends on intimate knowledge of the lay of the land, and especially that people like my compadre P who spent his youth leading mules on trails crisscrossing the highlands, have good reason to maintain detailed and precisely oriented mental maps of their territory. Knowledge of routes and geography, not unlike knowledge of plants (see Laughling and Breedlove 1993), grows naturally from tromping the trails. Older Zinacantecs are encyclopedias of place names, botanical and topographic lore, paths, routes, waterholes, rivers, and settlements over a wide area that extends far beyond municipal boundaries. They are able to give detailed accounts of terrain they know, and when called on to do so can attach explicit linguistic characterizations to direction, location, and position.

Detailed knowledge of geography and local terrain may have begun to fade when younger men took to trucks, combis, and buses after the arrival of the Pan-American highway in the early 1950s. However, although detailed knowledge of micro-geography may have narrowed, the scope of Zinacantec macro-geographic knowledge has certainly expanded. A consequence of changing times and economic crises in Mexico is that people from Chiapas Indian communities once relatively isolated from the pressures for outmigration that have long characterized the rest of the Mexican countryside have themselves begun to travel far and wide in search of work. Zinacantecs have long moved throughout the region as merchants, but more and more individual Zinacantecs have started to travel far from their municipality, sometimes never to return. (28) Maryan, another of my Zinacantec compadres who has never, as they say, had much "experience with a hoe"-- that is, who has never farmed corn-- described to me the route he took when, burdened by crushing debts, he fled his village and sought work in the resort city of Cancun, located in the northeast corner of Quintana Roo far from his highland Chiapas home. (He also gave a similar description to Lourdes de Leon later that same day.)

Many aspects of Maryan's story are deliberately ignored here, although they have considerable ethnographic interest. I will have nothing to say about the man's debts, the circumstances of his long exile, and his eventual return to the village. Instead I will show how Maryan on his travels to Cancun carried with him a system of directional orientation which he exhibits as he talks. (29)

At the very beginning of Maryan's performance-- in which he answers my question about how he used to make the trip from the village of Nabenchauk where we sit to distant Cancun-- he shifts his sitting position, lifting up his chair and turning 10-15 degrees clockwise, so that the line of his shoulders now runs precisely East-West. Once made conveniently available by this shift, cardinal direction in pointing seems to remain constant and significant.

Let me illustrate the very beginning of Maryan's route desription, and then skip ahead to an intermediate point along the road to Cancun. He starts out describing how he leaves Nabenchauk and proceeds straight to San Cristobal. He accompanies his words (shown at {14.1}) with a slow rising gesture pointing (with a pen he happens to be holding) out and up to his right, due east. (See Figure 22.)

{14.1} Nabenchauk to San Cristobal
1 2-3...(high and retract)
81 tuk' onox ya'el cibat ali ta
I would go straight to .. hh ...
82 li ta . ta Jobel xkaltike une
to . . . San Cristobal, as we say.

Figure 22 Video 14.1

Shortly thereafter, Maryan describes the route as it leaves San Cristobal and heads for another spot on the Pan-American highway called Rancho Nuevo. As he describes reaching that point, he moves his vertical flat hand, still pointing east, from a slightly raised position downwards (see Figure 23), apparently indicating "arrival."

{14.2} Getting to Rancho Nuevo
(1).........2............(rise and down to rest)
84 m; va'i un ali ja' xa li ta-
So then, when we. . . uh . . .
RH up...rest
|out again to R

85 yo' jtatik ali . ranco nwevo une
when we get to where Rancho Nuevo is.

Figure 23 Video 14.2

He continues as shown in {14.3}, saying that from that point one "turns to the side" and continues away from home heading towards the next major town of Ocosingo. His expression with the verb -k'atp'uj means simply 'turn aside'; it makes no further specification of direction.

{14.3} Turning sideways.
1 2-----3...(high and stretch further)
87 m; ja' xa cik'atp'ujotik ec'el xi to cibatik .
that's where we turn away to the side and we go this way [towards Ocosingo].

Video 14.3

However, Maryan's gesture at this point, shown in Figure 24 , seems to indicate clearly that the direction involved is slightly east of north. He makes a pushing gesture, first turning his palm to face north with the fingers slightly cupped, and then extending the hand outward in front of him (to the north-northeast), and finally extending his fingers.

In one of the illustrations with which I began (Figure 2 above), is drawn from a later segment of this same route description. Maryan has located himself discursively at an important crossroad on the route just south of Palenque. His left arm is extended fully in front of his body, with the pointing finger angled slightly downwards and to the right-- a position that he holds for more than one second as he tells me that "Palenque is close." The gesture is clearly transposed, in a now familiar way. From the discursively established crossroad, Palenque lies roughly NNW, the direction he now points. He has thus already constructed a narrated space point by point, over which he laminates the here-and-now of the conversation which supplies the required cardinal orientation.

(Double Size)

Map 4: A German Map of Southeastern Mexico

Without presenting the whole route description, let me simply summarize a striking fact. If you look carefully at the compass directions of all Maryan's pointing gestures, it is possible to construct a map of his route which can be compared to, say, a German map of the same territory.

(Double Size)

Figure 25: Maryan's Virtual Map, Nabenchauk to Cancun

I have tried to schematize a "sculpted" or "pointed" "map" of Maryan's Nabenchauk to Cancun route in Figure 25. The distances represented are speculative interpretations of the accompanying gestural sweep and should thus not be taken too seriously. Comparing this virtual map with the standard German roadmap in Figure 4, it is clear that Maryan's directional sense, though somewhat schematized, diverges rather little from that of European cartographers. Both maintain roughly the same cardinal orientations.

A few further comments are in order. Notice first that Maryan's representation gives considerable local detail, naming a large number of nearby locations, especially within the state of Chiapas. It becomes less less detailed the farther he gets from home. Such differential density in representation is reminiscent of comparative findings about such externalized "maps", (30) although it is hard to say whether this result reflects facts about Maryan's geographical knowledge or simply the constraints of the interactive situation (where he expected his interlocutors to know relatively more about nearby places in Chiapas than about distant points in Quintana Roo).

Second, note that the relative schematization or normalization of directions can be judged, in Maryan's gestures, mostly from his depiction of how to proceed from each major intersection, taking each one at a time. (Maryan, once a truck driver for Nabenchauk timber merchants, could be expected to have concentrated on such orientations as part of the navigating skills required of a chauffeur.) However, a cumulative point-by-point mapping of the route, if applied globally and not corrected by spot sightings on unbroken roads, could be expected to produce cumulative error. (31) Thus, to judge by the ultimate tracing of paths, Maryan does not seem to have been misled by the fact that a road may leave a town in one direction, only to head ultimately in another.

As a kind of added bonus, at the end of his route description to Lourdes de Leon, Maryan resorts to drawing in the dust. Figure 26 is my reconstruction of the drawing that results, detailing only the relationship between a few points on the route. The solid lines appear on de Leon's handwritten notes about the drawing; the dotted lines I have supplied on the basis of segments of the videotape.

These diagrams extracted from the whole route description show clearly that Maryan has constructed for himself a representation of this macro-space, which coincides remarkably with European cartographic representations, and which he replays and displays in carefully oriented gestures. Although in the whole conversation he makes hardly any spoken reference to cardinal directions, in his gestures he tracks his progress across the landscape with great directional precision.