Re: Some thoughts on mutli-modal (signing / speech) languages and communication.
|From:||Sai Emrys <saizai@...>|
|Date:||Thursday, February 12, 2009, 7:12|
On Wed, Feb 11, 2009 at 10:50 PM, Paul Kershaw <ptkershaw@...> wrote:
> "Sign" is an ambiguous term. In structural linguistics, "sign" basically refers to
> any linguistically meaningful unit (i.e., any concrete manifestation paired
> predictably with a meaning), regardless of medium.
> This, then, is a terminological disagreement. "Gesture" seems to me to be a
> reasonable term to use for any deliberate body movement, whether it be part
> of a sign language for the deaf or an element of body language, just as
> "articulation" seems a reasonable term for any deliberate oral noise, whether
> it be part of a spoken language or a grunt, gulp, or sigh.
> I disagree with you, for that matter, that such a strong distinction ought to
> be made between gestures that are part of a meaningful, robust system and
> gestures which are signs (in the structural sense) but which do not belong to
> a robust system, such as rubbing the thumb against the fingers to indicate
> money or holding the middle finger up in isolation. Those gestures certainly
> have predictable meaning, and the connection between the gesture and the
> meaning is arbitrary. In my view, that makes them (structuralist) signs, even
> if they're not part of a "sign language."
Fair enough. Perhaps I'm here being influenced by the cultural
literature I've read (a la Edward T Hall) more than the linguistic.
I agree there's certainly some potential for ambiguous situations;
e.g. it's hard to say when an ASL usage of North American "mere
gestures" turns into use of "borrowed signs" or yet "nativized signs".