Body language

Today’s Zippy has some very specific gestures:

This is one step beyond the gestures in this Zippy strip from last year, in which body language mostly communicates feelings. Here, a single gesture conveys an entire specific text. That is, Zippy’s “body language” seems to be non-compositional — like a codebook, rather than an actual language.

3 Responses to “Body language”

  1. Frederick Kintanar Says:

    The initial semantics seem to be compositional, but the implicatures are very rich, but still inferrable via abduction, if you think like Zippy (?!god forbid!). But who can account for the prosody of paralanguage, the Deaf seem to convey a lot more emotionally when they sign, while hearing signers tend to have wooden expression.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      I’m letting this comment through, but it’s totally baffling. There is absolutely no evidence in the strip that the meaning of the gestures is composed in some regular way from the meanings of their parts; the gestures look holistic.

      • Mark A. Mandel Says:

        I think the … not compositionality, but partial iconicity… decreases from frame to frame. In frame 1, the gestural position is consistent with (not “implies”) holding an ocelot, and the facial impression suggests anger. In 2 and 3 I can see iconicity* of the first part of the “meaning”: ‘silo half full’ and ‘not sexually receptive’. Frame 4, fuggedaboudit.

        *again, nothing that the viewer could infer, like much of the iconicity in ASL (American Sign Language). See
        Frishberg, N. 1975. Arbitrariness and iconicity in American Sign Language, Language 51: 696–719, and my chapter in Friedman 1977 _On the Other Hand: New Perspectives on American Sign Language_.

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