DGfS-Workshop: Visual Communication. New Theoretical and Empirical Developments

Workshop at the Annual Conference of the German Linguistic Society (DGfS) 2022

Location: Online

Date: February 23-25, 2022

Workshop Homepage

Invited presenters

  • Ellen Fricke (TU Chemnitz)
  • Liona Paulus & Jana Hosemann (University of Köln)
  • Jeremy Kuhn (Institut Jean Nicod, CNRS-EHESS-ENS)

Meeting description

Formal linguistics traditionally has a strong focus on the analysis of the form and meaning of spoken and written language. In this context, various linguistic theories have been developed to map quite different natural language phenomena to theoretical models via well-established formal tools. These formal tools have also been applied to the analysis of sign languages. For the most part, however, theories developed for the analysis of spoken languages were only slightly modified to account for the specific properties of the visual-gestural modality of sign languages. Likewise, formal analyses of spoken language have long neglected the multimodality of natural face-to-face communication and the impact of visual means such as manual and non-manual co-speech gestures on the meaning and use of utterances.The analysis of sign languages and co-speech gestures revealed that visual communication systems differ in several aspects from spoken language. For example, sign languages and gestures have iconic properties, i.e. they map aspects from the real world iconically to the visual space. In addition, in sign and spoken languages, gestures can be used to demonstrate (aspects of) actions and events visually. Consequently, the analysis of multimodal communication including the visual modality requires modified or even new formal tools, which will also incorporate insights from cognitive linguistics and semiotics.

The focus of this workshop will be on recent theoretical and empirical advances in different aspects of multi-modal communication. The workshop aims at bringing together scholars interested in empirical studies of and linguistic theories accounting for different aspects of visual communication in spoken and sign languages. For this, the workshop is attractive to theoretical linguists, corpus linguists, psycholinguists, typologists, semioticists,  and sign language linguists. Submissions on but not limited to the following topics are invited:

  • new formal semantic and pragmatic approaches to multimodal communication and visual phenomena
  • new cognitive semantic and pragmatic approaches to multimodal communication and visual phenomena
  • new empirical and experimental studies on the syntactic and semantic interaction of language and gesture in both linguistic modalities, i.e. spoken and sign languages
  • new corpus-based studies on the interaction of gesture with spoken and sign languages
  • new empirical studies on the acquisition of the form and meaning of gestures
  • new typological studies on the use of gestures in different sign and spoken languages
  • new typological studies on the impact of visual iconicity on spoken and sign languages

The languages of the workshop are English and ASL/IS. Interpretation between English and ASL/IS will be provided.

Workshop organizers

  • Cornelia Ebert
  • Markus Steinbach
  • Clemens Steiner-Mayr



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