Language in Society


DAVID MCNEILL, Gesture and thought

Leila  Monaghan  a1
a1 Anthropology, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82071, USA,

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DAVID MCNEILL, Gesture and thought. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005. Pp. xii, 318. Hb $38.00.

I am a visual and tactile learner myself, and so David McNeill's latest work, Gesture and thought, makes bone deep (or perhaps, following McNeill, brain deep) sense to me. His main argument is that language and gesture are inextricably entwined. He sees “gestures as active participants in speaking and thinking. They are conceived of as ingredients in an imagery-language dialect that fuels speech and thought” (p. 3). He looks closely at how gesture and speech coexist in narrative, presents transcription methods suitable to capturing their interdependence, and, perhaps most importantly, lays out the intellectual framework for why a dynamic, double vision of language is essential to understanding the nature of interactions.

(Received May 22 2006)