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  1. Material presented here is based on oral presentations in a number of contexts: at the workshop "Space in Australian Languages," inaugural Australian Linguistics Institute, Sydney, July 1992; in a seminar presented to Institut fur Volkerkunde der Albert-Ludwigs-Universitat, Freiburg, 22 Oct 1992; at the Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois, Feb. 23, 1994; at the Cognitive Anthropology Research Group, Nijmegen, Nov 24, 1994; at the Laboratoire d'Ethnologie et de Sociologie Comparative, Universite de Paris X, Nanterre, Nov. 29, 1994, at the Department of Anthropology, University of California at Los Angeles, April 27, 1995; at the conference "Gestures Compared Cross-Linguistically," organized by Adam Kendon and David McNeill, 1995 Linguistic Institute, Albuquerque, July 8, 1995; and in a Linguistics Colloquium, Stanford University, March 1, 1996. The current draft was prepared while the author was a fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, for whose support in 1994-95 I am grateful. I am indebted to helpful commentary by very patient colleagues and discussants at all of those occasions, as well as to various hosts for the generous opportunities to present the work.
  2. And puzzling: Levinson (1992) begins to explore some cognitive underpinnings (or concomitants) of GY linguistic practices, and de Leon (1994) discusses aspects of the acquisition of the linguistic system involved.
  3. Tzotzil examples in this essay are transcribed with an abbreviated practical orthography, partially based on Spanish, in which c or ch represents a palatal affricate, x a palatal fricative, z or tz an alveolar affricate, j a velar fricative, C' (where C is a consonant) a glottalized consonant, and ' a glottal stop. Transcript lines (set in a Courier typeface) are accompanied by a free English gloss, and by gestural descriptions (set in Times Roman italics), which are set above the spoken words as a rough guide to their actual synchrony with the stream of speech. L,R,H,N,S,E, and W are abbreviations for left, right, hand, north, south, east, and west respectively. Where a transcript line is accompanied by gestural drawings, numbers (on the drawing and set in synchrony above the transcript line) indicate the illustrated moments of a movement. Guugu Yimithirr is written in a standard Australianist practical orthography.
  4. See Evans (forthcoming) for a morphological description of an especially remarkable case, Kayardild, the language of Bentinck Island. For speakers of Kayardild, "[i]n locating objects or giving directions the words junku 'right' and thaku 'left' are rarely employed; compass locationals are used in their stead. Even in visualizing imaginary situations a cardinal reference is established" (Evans forthcoming:25). The working papers of the Cognitive Anthropology Research Group, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen contain descriptions of a variety of linguistic systems of this type.
  5. Some theorists have evidently considered the systematicity of such gestures to be unlikely if not impossible, at least on the basis of casual observation. Consider: ". . . pointing at places not present, whether buildings or cities, is very typical of rather articulate speakers, but most of the time they are geographically inaccurate" (Poyatos 1983:114).
  6. And not only in Australia: "I also notice that I confuse people when I attempt to gesture in the same manner as an Assiniboine person while talking, but fail to create a correspondance between the direction in which my arm or hand moves and the geographical direction of the place or person being referred to through my speech" (Farnell 1988:12).
  7. Cardinal direction terms are common throughout Australia. See Dixon (1972), Laughren (1978), and Evans (forthcoming). In Cape York Penninsula, GY's neighboring languages all have cognate terms for the cardinal directions, although descriptions of usage are lacking. David Wilkins (1994a) describes an Arrente children's game based on such a directional system.
  8. Material transcribed from recorded conversations in the 1970s and 1980s, in a variety of circumstances, includes about 110,000 words in machine readable form.
  9. See Talmy (1985).
  10. Considerable debate, mostly semi-experimental and inconclusive, rages over a seemingly simple question: do gestures communicate? See, for example, Krauss, Morrel-Samuels, & Colasante (1991), and Kendon (1994).
  11. Kendon (1994) has argued in what I take to be a similar vein that gesture, whatever role it may play in the processes by which a speaker, as we say, "puts her thoughts into words," has an unavoidable and naturally exploitable communicative role. Similar points of departure are assumed by such other scholars as, for example, C. and M. Goodwin (Goodwin and Goodwin 1992), C. Goodwin (1986), Moerman (1990), and Streeck (1993).
  12. McNeill and his associates (McNeill and Levy 1982; McNeill 1985; McNeill, Levy, and Pedelty 1990; Cassell and McNeill 1991), drawing on the classic proposals of Efron (1972[1941]), have developed an influential classificatory scheme which distinguishes between "iconic" and "metaphoric" gestures which bear a relation of resemblance to aspects of utterance content, "deictic" gestures which index referents both concrete and abstract, and "beats" which seem to be non-representational. See also Ekman and Friesen (1969). The scheme is elaborated and compared with competitors in McNeill (1992).
  13. The same sort of evolution, paralleling movement from left to right on the continuum, has been ascribed to (sign-language) signs themselves, in the developing competence of adult speakers of "alternate" languages like Warlpiri sign language (Kendon 1990a).
  14. The possibility of formal/functional links between gestures and the meanings they appear to encode calls into question the strict dichotomy between gesticulation and emblem, or even sign. For one thing, it may not always be so easy to distinguish emblems from gesticulation. See, for example, Calbris (1990); Haviland (1991b), and Kendon's recent work (e.g., Kendon 1995) on recurrent hand shapes in Italian gesticulation. The important issue of the exact handshapes and contours of motion involved even in pointing is ignored in this essay.

    David Wilkins, in discussion with Kendon, Kita, Levinson and others in the Gesture Project of the Max-Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, distinguished various possible senses of "convention" as applied to systems of gestures. One distinction is between an inventory of conventional form/motion complexes of the sort normally termed "emblems" and a wider set of conventions (e.g., of movement, of general hand shape [see Wilkins (1994b)], or of cardinal orientation of the sort I describe for GY) that may apply over a whole series of possibly even nonce gestures. One can also imagine conventions of gestural usage (limiting them to certain situations, or genres, for example) and function (evaluative metacommentary, for example, as is argued for "metaphoric gestures" by McNeill and his associates, or a kind of gestural parsing of discourse, as for example with "beats".)

    Convention can also span such distinguishable arenas of gesture; thus, for example, conventions of politeness that govern the use of different hand shapes for showing the heights of children (as opposed to, say, farm animals), have been described by Poyatos (1983).

  15. Metaphoric gestures are a special sort of iconic gestures which, rather than directly illustrating the import of a speaker's words, depict instead "the vehicle of a metaphor" (for example, a "balancing" or "weighing" gesture to accompany speech about taking a decision or considering options). By contrast, beats are "formless" gestures, without representational character, a kind of non-verbal punctuation often synchronized with the rhythmic structure of speech.
  16. McNeill & Cassell (to appear) distinguish "abstract deictics": those gestures that "point" at absent or imagined entities.
  17. For example, see Sherzer (1972).
  18. Balthasar Bickel (p.c.) points out that even highly specified deictic systems (with, for example, several degrees of "proximity" or types of "access" distinguished lexically) may routinely require gestural complementation. It is an interesting empirical question--not answerable, as far as I know, from existing literature--whether the gestures that accompany deictics in such contexts are more specific or "precise" in their formation than pointing gestures in lexically simpler deictic systems.
  19. Wittgenstein (1958), section 85. Lest this seem like a mere philosopher's niceity, consider the following anecdote. Sander Adelaar (p.c.) remarks that during World War II speakers of Chamic languages were confused by Western soldiers who pointed to a far off spot, asking for a place name, only to be given the name of the spot directly below the outstretched finger.
  20. Of course, the physically present JB may differ in significant ways from the JB who was "a young man then," for whom the immediately present indexed referent may be only a proxy. That is, the here-and-now of the speech event stands in for the indexed there-and-then of the narrated events (and JB's narrated persona), which is contrasted with his current persona. "I was a young man, then," he admits; swimming three miles meant nothing that that young man, perhaps unlike the aged body at which I now point.
  21. See line 47, where the narrator appeals to his interlocutor's familiarity with his domestic house cross.
  22. See Haviland (1991a). Christopher Habel (1990) makes use of the notion of resolution to model knowledge people apparently have of the Hamburg train system.
  23. Calbris (1990), ch. III, attempts a classification of gesture in terms of features of the physical realization, such as movement, position with respect to the body, direction, etc.
  24. In GY conversation, sometime such a gesture--apparently expressing "take off quickly"--starts with a sharp hand clap, with the hands then separating, and one rising in the same sort of trajectory.
  25. One young man in his early twenties confessed to me that he had grown up thinking that the expression yarra naga, "yonder to the East," just meant "over there."
  26. I have analyzed filmed narrative in which a Hopevale man who lived the last thirty years of his life in Melbourne, far to the south, with infrequent contact with anyone at home, reminisces about his childhood. He appears to maintain normal directional precision in his spoken GY, but he frees his gestures from the constraints of compass directions, allowing them to settle, English-like, wherever they happen to fall.
  27. Gossen (1974) notes that Chamulans conventionally denote north as "the side of the sky on the right hand" and south as ". . . on the left hand" (p. 32). Zinacantecs often simply refer to either direction as ta k'atal 'sideways.' In Chamula, as in Zinacantan, east is conventionally "up" and west "down."

    Brown and Levinson (1993) describe the cognate "uphill" and "downhill" system in neighboring Tenejapa Tzeltal, where the denotations are rotated 90 degrees ("uphill" denotes south). Although such terms are easily elicited in semi-experimental tasks where geographic orientation is the prime concern, there is nothing in Brown and Levinson's study to indicate that such directional terms are any more frequent in ordinary talk in Tenejapa than they are in Zinacantan.

  28. See Haviland (1989), and de Leon (1991) for more ethnographic background to recent Zinacantec labor migration, especially to the United States and Mexico City.
  29. I must also slight important questions about the social and interactive nature of the conversation (and the gestures within it), and about the conceptual grounding of the "spaces" in which the gestures occur in the interactive context. It may for example be important what Maryan's interlocutors already know about the geography in question, or what he assumes them to know.
  30. See Gossen (1974), who argues that as distance from Chamula increases, so do time, alienness, and danger in Chamulan ideas about the world.
  31. The observation is due to seminar comments by Steve Levinson.
  32. I am grateful to Lourdes de Leon for sharing her fieldnotes, thus allowing me to reconstruct the drawing in the ground, which does not show up on the videotape. Analysis of M's videotaped route description to de Leon produces results nearly identical to those diagrammed for his description to me.
  33. As Eve Clark points out in commentary, normal spoken referential devices involve the same sorts of conceptual transposition: "are you parked by the gym?" when 'you' are actually standing next to me. The classic exposition of a range of such Nunbergian cases is Fauconnier (1984).

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