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From Star Trek to The Hunger Games: emblem gestures in science fiction and their uptake in popular culture

Freestone, Pete; Kruk, Jessica; Gawne, Lauren


Pete Freestone

Jessica Kruk

Lauren Gawne


Research on emblems to date has not drawn on corpus methods that use public data. In this paper, we use corpus methods to explore the use of original fictional gestures in the real world. We look at two examples from popular science fiction, the Vulcan salute from Star Trek and the three-finger salute from The Hunger Games. First, a Twitter corpus of the Vulcan salute emoji shows that it is used to represent Star Trek fandom and wider nerd culture, alongside its use as a greeting. Second, a global news corpus shows the three-finger salute has come to be used as a pro-democracy protest gesture across political and cultural boundaries in South East Asia. These corpus studies show different trajectories for the two gestures, with the three-finger salute escaping the confines of its fictional world, while the Vulcan salute has come to stand in as a reference to the media it originated from. We conclude with a reflection on the opportunities, challenges, and limitations of bringing corpus methods to gesture studies.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 24, 2023
Online Publication Date Nov 15, 2023
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date Jan 2, 2023
Publicly Available Date Dec 11, 2023
Journal Linguistics Vanguard
Publisher De Gruyter
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Issue s3
Pages 257-266
Keywords gesture; Hunger Games ; Star Trek ; emoji; genre fiction
Public URL


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