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“Deictic and verbal gestures in Yoruba construal of time”

As individuals in a language community speak about past, present, and future events, they call on arrays of communicative devices, such as postures, facial expressions, head and hand movement, and gestures, i.e., non-verbal signals, to complement their verbal utterances. Such co-occurrence of verbal and nonverbal signals is not haphazard, rather it is coordinated, functional, and meaningful, varying across language groups. Underscoring the place of gesture in their society, Yoruba people esteem highly that child of whom it is said ‘understands face’ (mọ ojú) and ‘recognizes body’ (mọ ara). Thusly socialized, Yoruba people employ different verbal expressions to communicate time and manual gestures to spatially situate time. The goal of this unfolding project is to explore Yoruba gesture morphologies pertaining to time, to understand their cultural frame of reference that informs their conceptualization of time, and their gestural enactment of it in communicative situations. It is also to examine interactions between their verbal expression and their gesturing of temporal deixis.

Augustine Agwuele