Onomatopoeic Ideophone-gesture Couplings in Kuria

Binagi Daudi Rioba∗


There has been a general consensus that ideophones tend to occur in synchrony
with depictive gestures in a manner that the two enhance each other. However,
there have been conflicting views with regard to this synchrony, particularly
withregard toonomatopoeic ideophones. While several studies reveal that
onomatopoeic ideophones are merely simplistic and rarely accompanied by
depictive gestures, analytical studies to ascertain these findings are scant.
However, data from Kuria show that onomatopoeic ideophones are not only
numerous in number but also accompanied by depictive gestures by 68%.
Findings also reveal that onomatopoeic ideophones in Kuria are divided into
two categories: those with sound modality alone and those that have multiple
modalities with sound being a dominant modality. This paper argues that in
establishing modality, native speakers’ intuition and body language, as
reflected in verbal and gestural information, should be taken into account. The
paper concludes that the Kuria onomatopoeic ideophones are accompanied by
depictive gestures at a higher rate than previously reported in the literature.
Key words: ideophones,depiction,depictive gestures, onomatopoeic ideophones,
modality, Kuria

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