On Tue, 8 Jun 2010 16:01:45 -0400, Louie <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>I'm pretty amateur at this, so excuse my lack of long words...
>I started writing a new language a few days ago as my old one wasn't working
>out, and I'm incorporating a rather complex gestural system into the
>'alphabet'. The gestures are slapping any area of the leg, slapping anything
>above the leg, clapping the hands, touching two fingers to the lower lip,
>and holding three fingers (the 'oath' or boyscout(?) sign) in the air. It
>opens up a whole new area of politeness and syntax. For example, replacing
>the 'three fingers' with touching the top of the head lightly conveys great
>respect. There's also a lot more emphasis placed on body language and
>gestures in general since they've been incorporated into the language with
>definite meanings. I have currently romanized them with symbols (chosen
>somewhat randomly):
>^ leg clap
>- torso clap
>* hand clap
># three-finger gesture
>@ two-finger lip tap
>There's also a vocalized alphabet which is spoken as usual.
>I was just interested as to your thoughts on this, and what other gestures
>or oddballs could be inserted into a language like letters.

Well, the first thing to pass through my head is that the combinatory
possibilities for gestures aren't really much like those for speech sounds.
 They're not in the same medium, and there's no articulatory reason they
should be sequenced the same; I find it hard to make recognisable gestures
as quickly as I say a phone anyway.  Let's pretend you were treating them
like consonants, say, and your syllable structure was (C)V -- then you'd end
up only having gestures allowed where there happens to be a missing
consonant in the speech stream, and that just seems funny to me (and
treating them like vowels is even stranger).

What instead seems natural to me is to treat gestures at the same level as
syllables, at the finest, if not whole words or sequences of words.  

There are also many interesting possibilities raised by the fact that you
can speak and gesture simultaneously.  For instance, to give just one idea,
maybe each word has both spoken and signed realisations, and then your
syntax could heavily exploit that you can say two words at once...  There's
been discussion of this sort of thing on the list before: see
for a recent example.  

Don Boozer's Dritok is a well-crafted example of a conlang that involves
gestures, for inspiration:

As for the original question of what sort of gestures you might have:  sign
language phonology (as I'm familiar with it) analyses signs into positions,
motions, handshapes, and a few other things like orientations.  David's
piece on sign language transcription mentions a sizable palette of
possibilities for each component: