Hul’q’umi’num’ storytellers’ use of gestures to express space and viewpoint

Rosemary Webb

This thesis describes how co-speech gestures are used by Hul’q’umi’num’ storytellers. Hul’q’umi’num’ is the dialect of Halkomelem Salish spoken on Vancouver Island. All language users gesture, though the form and function of gestures can vary across languages and dialects. This work comprises the first description of iconic gestures in a Salish language, focusing on gestures used in narratives by fluent speakers including the late Quw’utsun’ elder, Sti’tum’at Dr. Ruby Peter. Speakers utilize the physical space around them to convey locational and referential meanings, tied to both real-world and in-fiction spaces. Speakers also use gestures to express events from different perspectives, called viewpoints, such as that of a character enacting the event or an observer watching it take place. The thesis analyzes how Hul’q’umi’num’ gestures are used to illustrate space and viewpoint, and explores the connections to similar communicative strategies used in signed languages.

Keywords: Salish; Halkomelem; gesture; narratives; viewpoint