Proposing a revised functional classification of pragmatic gestures

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11 Citations (Scopus)


This study recommends a functional linguistic-based framework to categorize gestures according to their pragmatic functions. Through this study, we propose a revision of the pragmatic functions of gestures to simplify their classification. This framework is based on another introduced by López Serena and Borreguero Zuloaga for discourse markers. Existing categorizations refer to gestures that are referential or pragmatic in function, with an additional category for interactional regulators. We suggest bringing the interactional function under the same umbrella of pragmatic functions. The proposed re-classification of pragmatic functions into interactive, metadiscursive and cognitive is illustrated with different occurrences of the Palm Up Open Hand gesture (PUOH), which has been observed to recur in different speakers and contexts. The examples of PUOH gestures have been taken from speakers of various languages, in different interactive settings. We conclude that PUOH gestures have a primarily pragmatic function, more complex than has been suggested to date but this categorization relies on having access to the speech as well as other body gestures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102870
Early online date1 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • Gesture classification
  • Palm Up Open Hand gesture
  • Pragmatic functions
  • Recurrent gestures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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