Pointing and its meaning
We propose a compositional analysis of pointing plus different speech expressions (indefinites, definites, and demonstratives in particular), where the pointing gesture has a fixed ‚lexical‘ semantics and contributes a certain conventional meaning depending on its accompanying phrase.
As for pointing gestures with demonstratives, we argue that demonstratives can be analysed as semantically vacuous entities that only function as ‘dimension shifters’ from the non-at-issue to the at-issue dimension. The (‚lexical‘) semantics of a gesture is taken to be a rigid concept such that not the demonstrative expression, but the gesture itself is responsible for the observed rigid interpretation. We understand this treatment of a gesture and the corresponding temporally aligned demonstrative as a decomposition of Kaplan’s analysis of demonstratives + pointing gesture. We will show that our analysis also naturally accounts for Kripke’s distinction between speaker’s referent and semantic referent and for the attributive/referential distinction (Donnellan 1966).
Finally, we will show that pointing in the gesture space (viz. the space in front of the speaker’s torso, where speech entities can be established spatially for further reference) functions very much like pointing in the real space and shows the same semantic effects.