The chapter defines symbolic gestures as autonomous culturally codified gestures to which a canonical verbal phrasing corresponds in a given culture. Examples of iconic and arbitrary gestures are given, and a way is proposed to measure a gesture’s iconicity, based on how much its parameters still imitate the referent’s shape, location, orientation or movement. A proto-grammatical distinction is made between holophrastic gestures, that convey the meaning of a whole sentence, and articulated ones, corresponding to single words, and the Italian holophrastic gesture of the “tulip hand”, with its meanings as a true and a rhetorical question, is analyzed. Then several cases of rhetorical figures in gestures are illustrated: metaphor, metonymy and synecdoche, hyperbole, irony, allusion, dysphemism. Finally, the chapter presents a protocol for the construction of a gestionary, a dictionary of symbolic gestures, that encompasses information on a gesture’s verbal formulation, contexts, synonyms, semantic content, semantic, pragmatic and grammatical classification, and rhetorical figures.
Poggi, I. (2014). Semantics and pragmatics of symbolic gestures. In A. C.Müller (a cura di), Semantics and pragmatics of symbolic gestures. (pp. 1481-1496). Berlin : de Gruyter.