It's as far as the arm can raise: Pointing height marks target distance among the San Juan Quiahije Chatino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigates the form of deictic gestures used by speakers of the Quiahije variety of Eastern Chatino (Otomangean, Zapotecan) spoken in Oaxaca, Mexico. An analysis of over six hours of interviews about local landmarks reveals that Quiahije Chatino speakers consistently use the far-is-up strategy to convey target distance in their deictic gestures—the farther the target, the higher and more expansive the form of the gesture. Participants in the study consistently used the far-is-up strategy to modify two types of deictic gestures: points and ‘go’ emblems (a gesture conveying forward motion). For points alone, participants combined the far-is-up strategy with the use of distinct handshapes for pointing to nearby versus distant targets. By systematically examining how deictic gestures are modified in one community in Mexico, this study lays the groundwork for further comparative and typological research on gestural deixis. Abstracts in Spanish and Quiahije Chatino are published as appendices. Se incluyen como apéndices resúmenes en español y en el chatino de San Juan Quiahije. SonG ktyiC reC inH, ngyaqC skaE ktyiC noE ndaH sonB naF ngaJ noI ngyaqC loE ktyiC reC, ngyaqC ranF chaqE xlyaK qoE chaqF jnyaJ noA ndywiqA renqA KchinA KyqyaC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103099
Early online date2021 May 8
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Aug 1

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics


  • Chatino
  • Gesture
  • Indigenous
  • Mesoamerica
  • Pointing
  • Semantic contributions of gesture
  • Zapotecan


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