Covert negation in Israeli Hebrew: Evidence from co-speech gestures

Anna Inbar, Leon Shor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study examines various uses of the gestures that are usually associated with explicitly expressed negation (overt negation) in spoken Israeli Hebrew. The analysis of such uses uncovers hidden negative structures (covert negation) at different levels, such as lexical, propositional, or discursive. For example, the study reveals that the gestural patterns that are usually coordinated with grammatical markers of negation may co-occur with various lexemes that have a negative component as part of their meaning (such as absence, bad, and the like), or with discourse markers that imply negation or restriction as part of their procedural meaning. The fact that the same gestural patterns are used in all these contexts suggests that the gestures indicate a higher abstract notion — namely, ‘negativity’ — rather than negation. Grammatical negation, therefore, should be considered one of the expressions of negativity. Moreover, the findings contribute to the claim that there is a conceptual affiliation between speech and gesture that goes beyond individual linguistic segments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-95
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
StatePublished - Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier B.V.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence


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