ISSN: 1139-8736
Depósito Legal: B-48039-2000

3.4.2. Manner in English and Spanish

The most striking difference between the two languages lies in the manner gestures that accompany directed motion sentences. Whereas in English they are synchronized usually with the manner verb, in Spanish the gesture spreads throughout the whole utterance. In addition, English speakers have at their disposal a strategy to ‘modulate’ the manner component of their utterances. They can either highlight the effect of the manner verb by accompanying it with a manner gesture, or they can downplay it by having no gesture or even by synchronizing the verb with a non-manner gesture, usually a path. The semantic effect of this strategy is to establish the relevance of the manner component of the verbal meaning. When it is accompanied by a manner gesture, the speaker seems to be signaling that manner should be paid attention to. When accompanied by no gesture, and especially when accompanied by a non-manner gesture, the speaker seems to be saying that manner does not count, that the manner verb is there because it has to fill the verbal slot of a sentence whose basic function is to indicate directed motion. In a sense, English speakers are geared by the typological make-up of their language to include manner verbs in their utterances. Gestures become, then, a way they have to signal the instances in which that manner content is not relevant.

All this is best seen with examples. In (3.62) above, the first gesture starting in roll combined path and manner. The hand rotated and the fingers wiggled while the hand was also moving outward to convey the path component. Both path and manner appear in synchrony with the manner verb. In the following example, with the same verb roll, the gesture does not have any manner component nor is it synchronized with the verb. Instead, it appears with the path element down and with the ground element the drain, via the ‘hold’:

(3.64) [and he rolls ... down the drain spout]
loose: A hand plunges straight down: path content only.
The emphasis is, then, on the downwards motion. The verb roll is just filling the obligatory verbal slot. In a sense, it is similar to one of the verbs of general motion, such as to go. It has to be pointed out that this "manner modulation" through gesture is done when the lexical manner verb does not indicate a very specific type of manner, that is, it shows up with common, general manner verbs like roll, walk, run, etc. If the speaker has bothered to select a very specific type of manner, then manner is relevant and downplaying it does not make much sense.
In Spanish, the situation is very different. As seen, manner of motion is not usually present in the linguistic encoding of the sentences. Nevertheless, it can appear in the gesture, even in those cases when it is not lexically present. However, it is not located at any specific point, as in English, but as what McNeill calls a ‘fog’ throughout the whole utterance, The following example attests this:
(3.65) 1. e [sic] entonces busca la man[eraSilent Pause]
     and so he looks for the way
    ‘and so he looks for a way’
    Gesture depicts the shape of the pipe: ground.
2. de entrar [se mete por el]
    to enter refl goes-into through the
    ‘ to force himself into the’
    Both hands rock and rise simultaneously: manner and path (left hand through mete).
3. [desagüe ... si?]
    drainpipe ... yes?
    ‘drainpipe ... right?’
    Right hand continues to rise with rocking motion: path + manner.
4 [desagüe entra]
   drainpipe enters
  ‘enters the drainpipe’
    Both hands briefly in palm-down position (clambering paws) and then rise with chop-like motion: path + manner.
The line by line transcription does not reflect adequately the continuity of the manner gesture (a climbing motion) throughout the description.

Bringing together the path and manner results, it can be argued that there is an influence of the type of language on the visual gestures generated during speech. In English, path is visualized as segments correlated with path particles, whereas in Spanish it is an undivided whole correlated with the verb. Manner, on the other hand, is concentrated at one point in English, whereas in Spanish it is diffused over entire episodes. Furthermore, English speakers can modulate manner by choosing whether to emphasize it with an accompanying gesture or to downplay it with a synchronic non-manner gesture.

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ISSN: 1139-8736
Depósito Legal: B-48039-2000