The “Negative-Assessment-Construction” – A multimodal pattern based on a recurrent gesture?

  • 1 Chemnitz University of Technology, Thüringer Weg 11, Chemnitz, Germany
  • 2 European University Viadrina, Große Scharrnstr. 5915230, Frankfurt, Germany
Jana Bressem
  • Corresponding author
  • Chemnitz University of Technology, Faculty of Humanities, Thüringer Weg 11, Chemnitz, Germany
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and Cornelia Müller
  • European University Viadrina, Faculty of Social and Cultural Sciences, Große Scharrnstr. 5915230, Frankfurt, Germany
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  • degruyter.comGoogle Scholar

Abstract

This paper offers an analysis of a multimodal pattern of negative assessment, which takes as the starting point a particular recurrent gesture: the Throwing Away gesture. Recurrent gestures are characterized by a stabilized form-meaning pairing. In the case of the Throwing Away gesture, form and meaning are grounded in an “Away-Action-Scheme”: i. e., a socially shared, sedimented experience of removing unwanted objects at, on, or approaching a speaker’s body. Based on a cognitive-linguistic analysis of the gesture and its use in five different verbal contexts, we suggest that the Throwing Away gesture enters a verbo-kinesic construction that consists of the “Throwing Away Gesture + particles/negation/N/V/ADV”. The meaning of the verbo-kinesic construction is grounded in an embodied frame of experience in Fillmore’s sense: i. e., a schematized scene involving mundane actions, here ‘removals of unwanted objects’ (e. g., ‘Away-Action-Scenes’). Referring to Goldberg’s “Scene Encoding Hypothesis”, we propose that the “Negative-Assessment-Construction” designates scenes essential to human experience. With this focus, the paper puts forward a gesture-first account on verbo-kinesic constructions and suggests a possible candidate for such a multimodal pattern.

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