How do we understand what others are trying to say? The answer cannot be
found in language alone. Words are linked to hand gestures and other
visible phenomena to create unified ‘composite utterances’. In this book N.
J. Enfield presents original case studies of speech-with-gesture based on
fieldwork carried out with speakers of Lao (a language of Southeast Asia).
He examines pointing gestures (including lip and finger-pointing) and
illustrative gestures (examples include depicting fish traps and tracing
kinship relations). His detailed analyses focus on the ‘semiotic
unification’ problem, that is, how to make a single interpretation when
multiple signs occur together. Enfield’s arguments have implications for
all branches of science with a stake in meaning and its place in human
social life. The book will appeal to all researchers interested in the
study of meaning, including linguists, anthropologists, and psychologists.