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Conference Information

Full Title: Object Use as Semiotic Process in "Real" and Virtual Worlds: How Actions Turn into Gestures

Location: Passau, Germany
Start Date: 12-Sep-2017 - 16-Sep-2017
Contact: Jana Bressem
Meeting Email: click here to access email
Meeting Description: This panel discusses how actions turn into gestures and how different forms of object use and their levels of abstraction may be analyzed as semiotic processes from various disciplinary perspectives. Starting with questions from the interdisciplinary research project MANUACT (, project leader: Ellen Fricke) that is funded by the BMBF from 2015 until 2018, first results of the project along with other relevant contributions on the topic will be presented in the panel.

In contrast to natural objects, cultural ones are not just discovered but are subject to adaptive processes, in which the human hand plays a crucial role. Objects and hands develop against each other, functions of the hand are expanded through tools or replaced in manual or machine production processes. Contrary, in product design objects are made manageable for the user and traced back to elementary basic actions as recently for the development of touch-sensitive surfaces of computers and mobile devices, for instance. Such basic actions are linguistically preserved in the lexical semantics of motion and action verbs and in typified gestures describing actions. The demarcation of gestures and actions and possible intermediate stages poses a particular problem for different scientific contexts: In work-studies, physical manipulation of virtual objects is considered gestural. From a linguistic-semiotic perspective such movements of the hands are usually understood as actions. New technologies and interfaces refuse traditional classifications and pose a particular challenge for semiotic analyses. For the further discussion within the panel, two central questions are suggested:

1. To which extent are specific semiotic approaches suited to capture the spectrum of gesture and object use in face-to-face communication and furthermore in the context of new technologies, as for instance, in the contact- free object manipulation with LEAP MOTION or the behavior of avatars in virtual worlds?
2. What effects result from the consideration of such technologies for existing concepts of “embodiment” in Cognitive Linguistics and Semiotics that have been developed based on face-to-face communication?

Linguistic Subfield: Linguistic Theories; Pragmatics
LL Issue: 27.4263

This is a session of the following meeting:
Borders and Boundaries

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