Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Linguistics

First Advisor

Andrew J.. Cowell

Second Advisor

Barbara Fox

Third Advisor

Kira Hall

Fourth Advisor

Brenda Schick

Fifth Advisor

Charles Goodwin

Abstract

Arapaho is an Algonquian language with few remaining speakers, but it is well represented in the literature (e.g. Salzmann 1961). The Arapaho dialect of Plains Indian Sign Language has also received a considerable amount of attention (e.g. West 1960). However, there is scant attention to an easily observable property of Arapaho: The manual gestures used by Arapaho speakers are cross-linguistically atypical. The configurations and precision of the gestures, as well as how they are integrated with speech, are much more conventional than what has been reported for other spoken languages. In this dissertation, I take a first step in describing the relationship between gesture and speech in Arapaho, and I use the term 'bimodalism' to underscore the linguistic nature of this relationship.

I also address the problem of how to approach a description of bimodalism. The classic approach to language description has framed researcher interests, methodologies, and documentational techniques in a way that does not motivate an analysis of the linguistic potential that gesture might have together with speech. I therefore use an interactional approach, which has a methodology and theoretical framework that is more sensitive to bimodalism (e.g. Fox 1987; Hanks 1990; Goodwin 1996; Enfield 2003; Blythe 2010).

I build on previous work on Arapaho grammar (notably Cowell and Moss Sr. 2008) by using the interactional approach to examine linguistic reference within Arapaho speakers' spontaneous narratives. I argue that hand pointing and spoken demonstratives are complementary resources that Arapaho storytellers use to signal discourse relevance, which involves the relational statuses and spatial arrangements of the characters in their narratives. I show the depth of the relationship between pointing and demonstratives in Arapaho by examining a bimodal construction that I call the “viewpoint anchoring construction”.

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