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Review of  Metaphor and Gesture

Reviewer: Mohammad Rasekh Mahand
Book Title: Metaphor and Gesture
Book Author: Alan Cienki Cornelia Müller
Publisher: John Benjamins
Linguistic Field(s): Discourse Analysis
Linguistic Theories
Issue Number: 20.2183

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EDITORS: Cienki, Alan; Muller, Cornelia
TITLE: Metaphor and Gesture
SERIES: Gesture Studies 3
PUBLISHER: John Benjamins Publishing Company
YEAR: 2008

Mohammad Rasekh Mahand, Linguistics Department, Bu-Ali Sina University, Hamedan,

This book explores a new multidisciplinary area, the connections between
metaphor and gesture. The studies in metaphor have been related to gesture and
the studies in gesture are also focusing on the abstract ideas in metaphors.
This book is a good source in representing this relationship. The theories used
include conceptual metaphor theory and different theories used in semiotics.

The authors of this book consider the different approaches to the study of
metaphor and gesture from different standpoints. Metaphor is considered mapping
between different domains in conceptual metaphor theory. Additionally, it is
also related to idiosyncratic, imagistic ways of thinking in the moment which
may sometimes be reflected in gesture. Gesture, as a window onto the thought
processes of the gesturer can reveal metaphoric thinking, with or without
speech. Gesture can be used as a tool to understand intended meaning, too. The
papers in this volume show how gesture can be a valuable source of insight for
metaphor studies.

In the first paper, Alan Cienki gives an overview of findings in the current
research on metaphor and gesture. The second paper by Genevieve Calbris explores
how metaphoric notions are rooted in non-metaphoric notions.

The next three papers are concerned with gesture and its use in pedagogy. Robert
Williams studies the role of object manipulation and how it may serve to anchor
a metaphoric blend in the process of teaching children to tell the time. Rafael
Nunez studies the effects of lecturers' gestures in teaching mathematics and
Irene Mittelberg studies the importance of different iconic modes in linguistics
lecturers' metaphoric gestures.

The next three contributions are based on the study of gesture by the
psychologist David McNeil. McNeil in his paper considers those gestures which in
context turn out to be metaphoric. Jacques Montredon and colleagues analyze the
metaphoric conceptualization of deconstruction, a core theoretical notion in
postmodernism. Fey Parril tests the idiosyncratic nature of spontaneous
co-verbal gesture.

In the last main chapter, Cornelia Muller shows that the study of metaphoric
gesture brings into light the less discussed properties of metaphor.

This book also includes some commentaries on the value of studying metaphor and
gesture from the perspectives of various disciplines. Some outstanding figures
in linguistics and related fields have written these commentaries, including:
Ronald Langacker, Naomi Quinn, Jurgen Streeck, Anders and Gitte Hougaard,
Sherman Wilcox, Paul Bouissac, George Lakoff and Raymond Gibbs. These
commentaries discuss the potential importance of studying metaphor and gesture
from different perspectives, such as, semiotics, cognitive linguistics,
anthropology, psychology and conversational analysis.

The works in this book use different kinds of data, some elicited and some
natural. Different methodological approaches are also taken to analyze the data,
including: statistical analysis, interaction analysis, blending analysis,
semiotic analysis, linguistic analysis and hermeneutic analysis.

This collection and the research reported in this study provide an important
step forwards in our understanding of the complex phenomena of metaphor and
gesture. It represents the current work that deals with the relationship between
metaphor and gesture, and it raises some main questions and tries to answer them
in different papers. On the whole, the volume opens a new research area,
providing minimal grounds for its future developments. For the newcomers and
those who are not familiar with work on metaphor and gesture, this volume is
very helpful and makes it a research topic. For those who are familiar with
these research fields, the book provides useful insights and new viewpoints.

Mohammad Rasekh Mahand is Associate Professor of Linguistics at Bu-Ali Sina
University, Hamadan, Iran. His research interests include syntax, cognitive
linguistics and typology.