LYDIA RODRIGUEZ, then a student at University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, received funding in October 2008 to aid research on 'Thinking Gesture: The Dialectics of Language, Gesture, and Thought in Chol Maya,' supervised by Dr. Eve Danziger. This research investigates the relationship between language, gesture, and thought in a community of Chol Maya speakers of Northern Chiapas, Mexico. It explores the ways in which notions of time are spatialized in speech-accompanying gestures. Most of the existing research on the representation of time in gesture is based on work with 'tense' languages. In all of these studies the fact that time is given a linear representation is noteworthy. This research asks whether such representation of time in gesture is indeed a human universal. Current findings indicate that a linear conceptualization of time is absent in Chol speakers´ gestural repertoire. The co-speech gestures that appear most consistently in Chol discourse are: 1)deictic gestures pointing at real or imaginary locations, and elements in the landscape and the nearby space; 2) iconic gestures depicting shape, size, quantity, and distinctive features of people or mythical characters; 3) gestures occurring in phrases with affectives or positionals. In light of these findings, it is proposed that linearity of imagistic representation of time is not necessarily a universal in human thought. The fact that Chol main grammatical strategy to indicate temporal reference is aspect, and not tense, may account for this lack of linearity in Chol temporal thought.
Dissertation Fieldwork Grant
Virginia, U. of
Rodriguez, Lydia, U. of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA - To aid research on 'Thinking Gesture: The Dialectics of Language, Gesture, and Thought in Chol Maya,' supervised by Dr. Eve Danziger