When Gesture Becomes Analogy

Topics in Cognitive Science 9 (3):719-737 (2017)

Abstract

Analogy researchers do not often examine gesture, and gesture researchers do not often borrow ideas from the study of analogy. One borrowable idea from the world of analogy is the importance of distinguishing between attributes and relations. Gentner observed that some metaphors highlight attributes and others highlight relations, and called the latter analogies. Mirroring this logic, we observe that some metaphoric gestures represent attributes and others represent relations, and propose to call the latter analogical gestures. We provide examples of such analogical gestures and show how they relate to the categories of iconic and metaphoric gestures described previously. Analogical gestures represent different types of relations and different degrees of relational complexity, and sometimes cohere into larger analogical models. Treating analogical gestures as a distinct phenomenon prompts new questions and predictions, and illustrates one way that the study of gesture and the study of analogy can be mutually informative.

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