Following Adam Kendon, McNeill presents a unified theory of speech and gestures,
according to which gestures are an integral part of language.
Gestures directly transfer mental images to visible forms, conveying ideas that language cannot always express. Gestures contribute directly to the semantics and pragmatics of language. Gestures transform mental images into visual form and therefore express more than spoken language can express; and, symmetrically, they build in the listener's mind mental images that spoken language alone could not build. Gestures complement words in that they represent the individual's personal context and words carry this context to the level of social conventions. Unlike words, gestures are synthetic, noncombinatorial and never hierarchical: they present meaning complexities without undergoing the kind of (linear and hierarchical) decomposition that spoken language undergoes. Gestures provide a holistic and imagistic kind of representation, while speech provides a analytic and linguistic representation. Speech and gesture arise from the interaction (dialectic) of imagistic and linguistic mental operations through a process of self-organization.
The book offers a classification of gestures (including metaphoric gestures) and a narrative theory of gestures.
TM, ®, Copyright © 2015 Piero Scaruffi