Pointing with the chin is a practice attested worldwide: it is an effective and highly recognizable device for re-orienting the attention of the addressee. For the chin point to be observed, the addressee must attend carefully to the movements of the sender’s head. This demand comes into conflict with the politeness norms of many cultures, since these often require conversationalists to avoid meeting the gaze of their interlocutor, and can require them to look away from their interlocutor’s face and head. In this paper we explore how the chin point is successfully used in just such a culture, among the Chatino indigenous group of Oaxaca, Mexico. We analyze interactions between multiple dyads of Chatino speakers, examining how senders invite visual attention to the pointing gesture, and how addressees signal that attention, while both participants avoid stretches of mutual gaze. We find that in the Chatino context, the senior (or higher-status) party to the conversation is highly consistent in training their gaze away from their interlocutor. This allows their interlocutor to give visual attention to their face without the risk of meeting the gaze of a higher-status sender, and facilitates close attention to head movements including the chin point.
Abstracts in Spanish and Quiahije Chatino are published as appendices.
Se incluyen como apéndices resúmenes en español y en el chatino de San Juan Quiahije.
SonG ktyiC reC inH, ngyaqC skaE ktyiC noE ndaH sonB naF ngaJ noI ngyaqC loE ktyiC reC, ngyaqC ranF chaqE xlyaK qoE chaqF jnyaJ noA ndywiqA renqA KchinA KyqyaC.