Publication details [#2772]

Bouvet, Danielle. 1996. Metaphors of the body in gestural languages. Transformación 44 (175) : 27–39. 13 pp.


An exploration of the mode of creation and symbolic dimension of abstract signs used in gestural languages, which employ symbolization processes that form associations between signifier and referents. It is shown how abstract and concrete concepts can be expressed and differentiated through gesturing. These gestures follow parameters of placement, movement, hand configuration, and final expression and are linked by metonymy, synecdoche, and metaphor to a representation of parts of the body, corporeal movements, and organic reactions. Examples of signs located on the chest and forehead expressing feelings and designating emotions are presented. It is demonstrated that the same representations of the body are also found in imaged or metaphorical expressions of spoken language and argued that parameters of sign formation have a symbolic dimension that overcomes language differences, e.g., French vs. American Sign Language. It is concluded that this common metaphorical basis of gestural languages allows the deaf, unlike the hearing, to understand each other even if they speak different languages. (T. Arnold in LLBA 1999, vol. 33, n. 4)