Gestural Embodiment of Intensifiers in Iconic, Metaphoric, and Beat Gestures
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionBehavioral Sciences. 2023, 13 (2), . 10.3390/bs13020174
This study aimed to examine the gestural embodiment of intensifiers in iconic and metaphoric gestures when these words are used with literal and metaphoric statements. We asked a group of Persian native speakers to listen to and then retell a set of Persian stories. In these stories, a number of intensifiers were used with literal and metaphoric sentences. The results showed that when an intensifier was used with a literal sentence, there was a higher probability of using an iconic or beat gesture than when there was no intensifier in the sentence. Also, when an intensifier was used with a metaphoric sentence, there was a higher probability of using a metaphoric or beat gesture than when the sentence contained no intensifier. These results suggested that an intensifier in a literal or metaphoric sentence can strengthen the mental simulation and the embodiment of objects, ideas, or situations. When an intensifier is used with a literal or metaphoric sentence, the strength of activation in the premotor areas may be amplified and spread to motor areas. In contrast, when no such intensifier is used in a literal or metaphoric sentence, there is a higher probability of simulation in premotor areas without spreading to the primary motor areas. The production of an internal force and expressing emphasis are two other possibilities that may explain the higher use of gestures with intensifiers.