LINGUIST List 29.596

Mon Feb 05 2018

Review: Catalan-Valencian-Balear; Applied Linguistics; Language Acquisition; Pragmatics: Jungbluth, Fernández-Villanueva (2016)

Editor for this issue: Clare Harshey <>

Date: 22-May-2017
From: Sahar Ahmadpour <>
Subject: Beyond Language Boundaries
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Book announced at

EDITOR: Marta Fernández-Villanueva
EDITOR: Konstanze Jungbluth
TITLE: Beyond Language Boundaries
SUBTITLE: Multimodal Use in Multilingual Contexts
PUBLISHER: De Gruyter Mouton
YEAR: 2016

REVIEWER: Sahar Ahmadpour,

REVIEWS EDITOR: Helen Aristar-Dry

The book “Beyond Language Boundaries: Multimodal Use in Multicultural Contexts” attempts to elucidate the ways that language users in multilingual situations advance their personal varieties in their communications; this, in turn, illuminates the concepts of code switching and multimodal dynamic co-development of real-life grammar use. This book examines the connection of multimodality and language production of multilingual speakers. Initially, the theoretical models are presented and discussed followed by reporting a number of empirical studies investigating the Catalan, German and Spanish languages functioning as a first language (L1), second language (L2) or foreign language (FL). These languages are overviewed in an attempt to inter-relate the verbal and gestural modalities with grammar explanation or to look into actions as bases for gestures, which would nonverbally reflect the argument in German dynamic motion verbs. Other chapters emphasize the positioning in interviews, lexical access examinations, or proxemics in greetings and farewells. The contributions secondly attend to the verbal aspects of the use of Croatian, English, Italian, Brazilian-Portuguese and Polish in multilingual contexts; this usage is connected to self-representation and co-development of identity through code-switching, deixis or argumentative reasoning in distinct communicative environments .

In the first part on Multimodal Language Use’, there are six chapters all sharing the same theme. This first part starts with Alturo, Clemente and Payrató’s contribution about the ‘Notes for a Multilingual and Multimodal Functional Discourse Grammar’ from pages 3-33. In this chapter, Alturo, Clemente and Payrató focus on how Functional Discourse Grammar can serve as an effective model for the clarification of the grammatical issues related to language users’ multilectal and multimodal communicative competence. The authors have provided different arguments to back the Functional Discourse Grammar model in order to emend the model’s psychological/cognitive and discourse/pragmatic functions. Their work indicates that the distinction between primitives, that is the specificities of the languages, and the levels of representation, that is the multilingual and multimodal grammar, are promising areas to research in grammatical descriptions. The next chapter attends to ‘Actions as Sources of Gestures’ had written by Tessendorf from pages 34-54. As the name of chapter implies, the attention is on the use of hand gestures as daily or basic actions with a particular focus on the pragmatic and recurrent gestures that have a fixed form-meaning relation. This chapter centres around the ease of discovering the structural relations when beginning with the purposes of gestures and classifying them according to common themes. The third chapter in the first part is the, ‘Argument Structure Shift for German Dynamic Verbs gehen and kommen in Situated and Embodied Communication’ (pp. 55-72) written by Yepes. This chapter looks into variation in motion events in in both situated and embodied communication from a multimodal perspective. The argument is that the situated and embodied communications are both worthwhile and significant for analysed oral language use, lending support to the communicative approach in language teaching. This, however, does not overlook the importance of non-verbal language use. In the next chapter, ‘Proxemics of Greetings and Farewells in Spanish and German’, Schmidt intends to exhibit the cultural differences between German and Spanish populations in terms of the degree and kind of physical contacts in contexts of greetings and farewells. The purpose was to approve the hypothesis put forward by Hall regarding the existence of ‘contact’ and ‘non-contact’ cultures. Results of this study reveal an inclination towards touching behaviours in contexts of greeting and farewell. Schmidt calls for more empirical research to investigate the cultural differences with respect to non-verbal communication. Chapter 5 is entitled, ‘Gestures and Lexical Access Problems in German as Second Language’ (pp. 93-113) Isaeva and Fernández-Villanueva. This study uses an interactional approach to investigate the relation between gestures in oral language use in German as a second language and the accompanying lexical access challenges. The findings clearly showed the existence of lexical access problems with emphatic gestures that have discursive purposes. Next and final chapter in the first part, ‘Analysing German Teachers’ Identities through Multimodal and Multilingual Use’ by Puigdelliura and Fernández-Villanueva highlighted the usefulness of multimodal and multilingual clues in inspecting the identity in discursive interaction due to the fact that they permit speaker positioning above the verbal and monolingual language use. They report the significance and potential of multimodality and multilingual discourse engagement in leading to a deeper and an in-depth analysis in identity work.

The second part: Language Use in Multilingual Contexts draws on the contributions on language use in multilingual environments and consists of seven chapters. The first chapter in the second part, ‘Co-Constructions in Multilingual Settings’, written by Jungbluth overviews the different ways that the term co-construction is used in the literature on language use, speakers and interlocutors. This is totally dependent upon the object of the study and there is a need to gain a common understanding of the term by conducting further research. In the second chapter, ‘Deictic Strategies as Expression of Identity’, Da Milano carried out two case studies in order to examine the expression of personal deixis which is confused with the spatial and temporal deixis. Da Milano demonstrated the sensitivity of multilingual language to the activities and social context in which it occurs, the expectations of the language users, and their rights and compulsions. The third chapter talks about the ‘Use of Connectives and Argumentation in Catalan Parliamentary Debate’ presented by Mestre and Cuenca from pages 162-178. The investigation of the binary connectives employed in a corpus of parliamentary discussions illuminated the fact that the frequency of binary connectives is way higher in Spanish than in Catalan. On the contrary, the causal connectives are greater in Catalan while consecutive connectives are used more often in Spanish. The conclusion is that although there are differences in the two languages considered, it is the individual style that plays a significant role in the construction and development of discourse in terms of binary connectives. ‘Language Attitudes and Identity Construction’ is the title of the next chapter, developed by Peters (pp. 179-199). Peters refers to the ways that multilingual and multicultural L1 attritors’ perceptions and beliefs are articulated with regard to their language production and how they can develop their identities according to their perceptions. The contribution by Rhobodes, pages 200-220, is entitled ‘Crossing and Blurring the Language Borders’. This chapter intends to suggest an innovative model that integrates the theory of language borders into language analysis in an attempt to attain interdisciplinary views about the examination of structural features of language mixing The results of this study pinpoint the process-oriented and dynamic specificity of languages which are consistently prone to permanent modifications and development. Cultural mixing is a phenomenon of cultural resource and articulation of creative language. The theory of the border presents an innovative approach by helping us combine the phonetic, morphological and syntactic features of language in the investigation. “Yes we can! – Sí se puede!” by Haid is the title of the next chapter which tries to provide an insight into the things that might happen between a speaker and the audience while there is code switching in political language use. Haid analyses the speech of United States, German and Russian politicians addressing a foreign audience in order to focus on the pragmatic use of code switching strategy to promote inclusion in political contexts. This study shows that code switching can become a communicative strategy for establishing solidarity and sympathy with the speaker’s interests and opinions. The last chapter in the second part extends from page 221 to 234, examining ‘Global English and Multilingual Luxembourg’. The writer of this chapter, Collins considers the degree to which the native-like use of the language can be a hurdle to second language learning of English given its prevalence and global and international status today. The results indicate the negative impact of the English language dominance on the second language learning prospects of the four Irish learners.

The book ends with an index.


This book is a very good resource for how the traditional language limitations can be overcome in multilingual communities. The book integrates theoretical and empirical evidence from the different languages such as Catalan, Spanish, English, Croatian, German, Italian, Brazilian, Portuguese, and Polish as the first language, second language or foreign language. The findings obtained from the studies in the book necessitate considering a conception of grammar description with implications also relevant for the conceptualization of deixis, for second or foreign language learning and language teaching policies. An eye-catching advantage of this book is its division of theoretical and empirical evidence into different parts. However, although a number of European and Latin languages are taken into account in the studies presented in the book, other important languages, such those belonging to Asian and African continents, are completely absent from the analysis. This makes understanding of the multilingual and multimodal contexts comparatively difficult for the Asian and African readers. The book also needs a conclusion by the editors at the end of the second part to summarize the main points emerging from the studies and recommendations for how to move this line of enquiry forward. On the whole, for those interested in multimodal communication specifically in the multilingual European context, the book is a helpful resource providing a variety of language use forms in different contexts.


I am Sahar Ahmadpour MA in TESL/TEFL. I have been teaching English for 16 years now. I enjoy teaching and research on EFL/ESL learners of English and discourse analysis along with bilingualism and multilingualism studies.

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