Multimodal language use in Savosavo
Refusing, excluding and negating with speech and gesture
Departing from a short overview on pragmatic gestures specialized for the expression of refusal and negation, the article presents first results of a study on those gestures in Savosavo, a Papuan language spoken in the Solomon Islands in the Southwest Pacific. The paper focuses on two partly conventionalized gestures (sweeping and holding away) and shows that speakers of Savosavo use the gestures in a very similar way as speakers of German, English or French, for example. The article shows how a linguistic and semiotic analysis might serve to uncover proto-morpho-semantic structures in a manual mode of communication and contributes to a better understanding of the conventional nature and cross-linguistic distribution of gestures. Moreover, by examining partly conventionalized gestures in a small, little known and endangered language, it presents a particular approach to the analysis of multimodality in the field of language documentation.
Keywords: multimodality, pragmatic gestures, negation, Savosavo, language documentation
For any use beyond this license, please contact the publisher at