Pointing and Morality in Chicago

McNeill, David (1998) Pointing and Morality in Chicago. [Preprint] (Unpublished)

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The signature form of abstract deixis is the classic pointing G-hand aimed at absolutely nothing. This gesture is extremely widespread and frequent in conversational discourse.[2] A speaker says "and there was [this guy]", and flexes an index finger at a certain locus, although there is no person there. In effect, the gesture `creates' a reference, in this case an imaginary person identified as "this guy". What I am terming `abstract deixis' is, according to Bühler (1982), concrete deixis that has been transposed to the realm of imaginary referents. His term for this process was deixis at phantasma. As in all cases of pointing, abstract deixis entails a coordinate center, or origo, and an indicated line connecting this center to a locus (the G-hand is an iconic sign of this line). A `target' then is created at this locus that may be used for later anaphoric references. The creative use of pointing in abstract deixis fleshes out the deictic paradigm with new meanings for the target and origo cross-hairs. Another component of pointing is the deictic field or ground over which the pointing act is understood to extend. In the concrete case, the deictic field is spatial and ranges from the immediate perceptual present to vast regions such as the entire Yucatan peninsula that Haviland (in press) describes in acts of pointing to distant locales. In the abstract case, the ground takes on non-spatial meanings. The components of deixis are all part of the referential creation of abstract pointing, and can be analyzed as parameters set by the speaker for the context. Creative deictic use is prominent in the example that I will now present.

Item Type:Preprint
Keywords:pointing, conversation, gesture, discourse, cohesion, social interation
Subjects:Psychology > Cognitive Psychology
Linguistics > Pragmatics
Psychology > Social Psychology
ID Code:195
Deposited By: McNeill, David
Deposited On:22 May 1998
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:53


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