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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton February 4, 2021

‘Away’ gestures associated with negative expressions in narrative discourse in Syuba (Kagate, Nepal) speakers

Lauren Gawne
From the journal Semiotica

Abstract

This article examines the formal and functional features of a recurring ‘away’ gesture in Syuba (Tibeto-Burman, Nepal). The formal properties of this gesture include a pronation of the forearms to bring the palms downward while the fingers spread away, and is most often performed with both hands. Functionally, it is found with utterances that signal negation, particularly the absence of something. A growing body of literature links ‘away’ trajectories with negation, or negative evaluation of speech content cross-linguistically. The temporal alignment between these gesture and lexical content also shows that cross-linguistic differences in word order appear to affect performance of gestures associated with negated content.


Corresponding author: Lauren Gawne, Department of Languages and Linguistics, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Australia, E-mail:

Funding source: Stack Exchange

Funding source: The Awesome Foundation (Ottawa)

Funding source: The Firebird Foundation

Funding source: NTU

Funding source: The Endangered Language Documentation Programme

Acknowledgments

Thanks to the Syuba (Kagate) community for sharing the enthusiasm for their language with me. Thanks especially to Sangbu Syuba and Ningmar Tamang for their assistance. An earlier version of this work was presented at the 2017 iGesto conference in Portugal, thanks to audience members for their questions and suggestions. Particular thanks to Adam Kendon and Sotaro Kita, as well as the anonymous reviewer for Semiotica who offered particularly thoughtful feedback. Thanks also to Mandana Seyfeddinipur and Chelsea Krajcik for early discussions, and Peta Freestone for a productive writing environment.

  1. Research funding: Funding for the documentation of Syuba came from to Stack Exchange, The Awesome Foundation (Ottawa), The Firebird Foundation, NTU, Singapore and The Endangered Language Documentation Programme (ELDP). Many thanks to these organisations for their support.

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Received: 2017-11-26
Accepted: 2019-07-15
Published Online: 2021-02-04
Published in Print: 2021-03-26

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