The role of gesture in the English ish-construction

Daniel Duncan


The English ish-construction, in which ish follows an utterance to indicate hedging, is multimodal. It has a prosodic component (a pause between the utterance and ish), and, as observed in this paper, it is often accompanied by a co-speech gesture such as a shrug. Data from a perception study suggests that unlike prosody, gesture is not a grammatical component of the ish-construction. However, gesture does play a significant role in conveying affect to listeners. I suggest that this use of gesture is a not-at-issue contribution to the utterance, and call for further work uniting the semantics/pragmatics and sociolinguistics of gesture.


co-speech gesture; embodiment; affect; hedging; prosody

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