The Raised Index Finger gesture in Hebrew multimodal interaction

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study examines the roles that the gesture of the Raised Index Finger (RIF) plays in Hebrew multimodal interaction. The study reveals that the RIF is associated with diverse linguistic phenomena and tends to appear in contexts in which the speaker presents a message or speech act that violates the hearer’s expectations (based on either general knowledge or prior discourse). The study suggests that the RIF serves the function of discourse deixis: Speakers point to their message, creating a referent in the extralinguistic context to which they refer as an object of their stance, evaluating the content of the utterance or speech act as unexpected by the hearer, and displaying epistemic authority. Setting up such a frame by which the information is to be interpreted provides the basis for a swifter update of the common ground in situations of (assumed) differences between the assumptions of the speaker and the hearer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264-295
Number of pages32
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - 31 Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 John Benjamins Publishing Company.


  • Israeli Hebrew
  • Raised Index Finger
  • contrastive focus
  • epistemic authority
  • pointing
  • recurrent gestures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


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