Degrees of metaphoricity: a quantitative gesture analysis

Woodin, Greg Alexander (2019). Degrees of metaphoricity: a quantitative gesture analysis. University of Birmingham. M.A.

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When a speaker uses a linguistic metaphor, how do we know that they are thinking metaphorically? One answer is by looking at their gestures (e.g., Müller, 2008).

In this thesis, I propose three criteria for identifying whether a speaker is thinking metaphorically: gesture cooccurrence, gestural fit and gestural effort (see Hostetter & Alibali, 2008). I also appeal to Müller’s (2008) conception of metaphoricity as a gradable phenomenon. Using these three criteria, I conduct a large-scale, quantitative analysis of gestures in the TV News Archive, focusing on linguistic metaphors of emotional valence (‘low standards, ‘high standards’, ‘lower the standards’, ‘raise the standards’). I also look at factors that may affect the metaphoric activation of these linguistic metaphors, and whether speakers gesture in line with other conceptual metaphors of emotional valence (e.g., Casasanto, 2009). Finally, I look at whether articulatory plurality, a widely-reported feature of sign languages (e.g., Börstell et al., 2016c), can be found in co-speech gestures.

Amongst other results, I find high levels of gesture co-occurrence (85.3%), gestural fit (61.5%) and gestural effort (70.8%) for all four linguistic metaphors. I also find that metaphorical verbs (‘lower’, ‘raise’) are more likely to be understood metaphorically than metaphorical adjectives (‘low’, ‘high’).

Type of Work: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.A.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.A.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and Creative Studies, Department of English Language and Linguistics
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics


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