İstanbul Üniversitesi İletişim Fakültesi Dergisi, vol.49, no.2, pp.51-73, 2015 (ESCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 49 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Doi Number: 10.17064/iuifhd.57009
  • Journal Name: İstanbul Üniversitesi İletişim Fakültesi Dergisi
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.51-73
  • Keywords: Turkish Emblematic Hand Gestures, Gestural Semantic Trait, Gestural Function
  • Dokuz Eylül University Affiliated: No


Emblematic hand gestures are culturally specific to a social community/group/class or to a given social context. Having a direct verbal translation, they are similar, in one sense, to idiomatic expressions in language. In that perspective, they might sometimes replace speech. Furthermore, being partly conventional as they vary from one culture to another, and partly motivated as a close analogic relationship is established between the signifier and the signified, they might also bear an iconic or a metaphoric gestural dimension. The aim of this study consists in showing how Turkish hand emblems morphologically convey meaning and how they pragmatically ensure communication; i.e. which semantic traits are transmitted by the gestural form in relation to the implied equivalent verbal message to be communicated and thus, to the communicative function they assume. Departing from this aim, a TV commercial featuring some Turkish emblems specific to a gastronomic setting was selected and analysed in a software called ELAN. The findings show that emblems having an iconic dimension either depict concrete physical entities by conveying semantic traits such as form, size and quantity, or they illustrate actions through motion as semantic trait. Moreover, they mostly assume a referential function, although they are rarely charged with a conative function. However, emblems bearing a metaphoric dimension refer to the depiction of abstract concepts by mostly transmitting quantity and attention as semantic traits, and they may assume a conative, a referential or an expressive function on the pragmatic level depending on the case.