The semiotics of gestures in cognitive linguistics: Contribution and challenges

O. K. Iriskhanova, A. Cienki

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The present study addresses some of the fundamental issues and challenges of the semiotics of gestures in cognitive linguistics. Showing that cognitive linguists have contributed to the study of gesture forms and functions in various areas of research, the authors indicate that the questions of whether gestures are signs and whether they make a semiotic system still cause much debate. In line with the previous studies, especially with "Kendon's continuum", the authors show that gestures differ in terms of conventionality, but other semiotic parameters of gestures should be taken into account as well. Relying on a broad understanding of semiosis, the authors argue that gestures should be considered as proper signs and analyzed in terms of a multi-vector model. Unlike language signs, gestures are characterized by highly variable semiotic profiles that are shaped in multimodal usage events, and they form a fluid system with unique qualities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-36
Number of pages12
JournalVoprosy Kognitivnoy Lingvistiki
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


  • Gesture
  • Kendon's continuum
  • Semiotic profile of a gesture
  • Semiotic system
  • Usage event


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