The Nijmegen Gesture Centre Lecture Series 2007 hosted a talk by Alan Cienki (currently at the VU Amsterdam as lecturer MA in English Language and Culture) and Cornelia Müller (Berlin Gesture Center) last week. I attended the lecture ‘How metonymic are metaphoric gestures?’ together with about 20 people. The talk and discussion afterwards were perhaps a little incoherent, partly because of most people’s unfamiliarity with the concepts of Metonymy and Metaphor (or was that just me) and particularly why they would be useful for gesture studies. It should also be noted that McNeill (1992) introduced a specific use of the words metaphoric gestures:
Hand and Mind (1992), p145: Metaphoric gestures create images of abstractions [as opposed to (iconic) gestures that exhibit images of events and objects in the concrete world]. In such gestures, abstract content is given form in the imagery of objects, space, movement and the like.
It is crystal clear that there is a whole world of thought (and fun) behind the word Metaphor. Big names Lakoff and Turner wrote brilliant books about it that are the stuff cognitive linguistics is made from. And to cap it all off, Mueller and Cienki lifted a tip of the veil about a hot upcoming book on metaphor in gestures too. It will be all I can do to stop from rushing to my online bookstore (as soon as I find time). We once had a serious young undergraduate student called Michelle Hilscher for a couple of months in our faculty. Then she was doing experiments with metaphor in images and I remember having the same incoherent discussions (from my part at least) about metaphor and iconicity with her as I did at the MPI now. Curiously, she is winning awards, and I am here blogging my PhD away. Time going to waste, I better get back to grooming my paper.
ps. If you can guess how many metaphors this post counts you receive an honorary mentioning.