The direction giving pointing gestures of the Malay Malaysian speech community
When we speak, we do not only produce a chain of words and utterances, but we also perform various body movements that convey information. These movements are usually made with the hands and are what McNeill (1992) terms gestures. Although gesturing is universal, the way we gesture and the meanings we associate with gestures vary cross-culturally. Using a qualitative approach, this paper describes and illustrates the forms and functions of pointing gestures used by Malay speakers. The data discussed is based on 10 video recorded direction-giving interactions. Findings show that pointing among Malay speakers is achieved through the use of various manual pointing gestures and other bodily actions involving gaze, torso and head movements, which communicate distinct functions. This study has indicated that although some gesture forms and functions are shared among Malay speakers and other cultural groups, some direction-giving pointing behaviors are Malay specific.
Keywords: direction giving, pointing gestures, non-verbal behavior, Malay
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