Publication details [#7979]

Mittelberg, Irene. 2007. Review of 'Gesture & Thought'. David McNeill, Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2005, 340 pages. ISBN: 0-226-51462-5. Metaphor and Symbol 22 (3) : 281–290.
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McNeill's new book is a companion to his earlier, ground-breaking monograph 'Hand and Mind: What gestures reveal about thought' (1992), in which he presented a unified account of how spontaneous co-speech gestures may provide a window on the intricacies of on-line thought processes, bimodal utterance production, and discourse strategies. Demonstrating how hands tend to reveal information the concurrent speech might conceal, McNeill's (1992) work has served as an eye-opener for scholars interested in actual language use and its cognitive and sociocultural foundations. In the meantime, gesture research has found its place within cognitive-functionalist linguistics, offering multimodal insights into embodied spatial concepts, image schemas, and conceptual metaphor, and also had a considerable presence at recent linguistics conferences (e.g., at ICLC 2003, EMCL 2003, and IPrA 2005; see Cienki & Miiller, forthcoming, and Gonzalez-Marquez et al., 2007). Such cross-fertilization has resulted in the enrichment of all strands involved, and there is hardly any study on gestural phenomena, whether more cognitively or culturally oriented, that would not draw in one way or another on McNeill's work. The book under review here presents the reader with the fruits of a career-long study of the thought-language-hand link (p. 233), culminating in intersecting models of language use, development, evolution, and the brain. Below, I first present the main tenets of McNeill's new theory of gesture and thought, and then address issues of gesture categorization, iconicity, and metaphor. (Irene Mittelberg)