LLF – Bât. ODG – 5e étage – Salle du conseil (533)
Patrick Grosz (University of Oslo)
A semantics of negative assessment gestures in discourse
This talk provides a case study in how tools from theoretical semantics can be applied to discourse-managing gestures that express rejection, such as the throwing away gesture (THROW), and the hand fling gesture (FLING). In the literature on pragmatic gestures, these gestures have been described as belonging to a class of negative assessment markers that clear unwanted discourse objects from the gesturer’s environment (see e.g. Bressem & Müller 2014, 2017); as such, they are expected to make comparable contributions. We present discourse conditions for the use of THROW, and show that FLING’s distribution only partially overlaps with that of THROW. THROW has an expressive, use-conditional meaning requiring that a preceding utterance addresses a question that the gesturer considers to be unimportant (regardless of whether the gesturer decides to pursue the question further). By contrast, FLING appears to communicate that a question that has previously been raised is no longer being actively pursued (regardless of whether the question is important or unimportant).