LINGUIST List 31.217

Thu Jan 16 2020

Calls: English; General Linguistics, Pragmatics, Psycholinguistics, Semantics, Syntax/United Kingdom

Editor for this issue: Lauren Perkins <>

Date: 14-Jan-2020
From: Patrick Georg Grosz <>
Subject: Gestures and Natural Language Semantics: Investigations
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Full Title: Gestures and Natural Language Semantics: Investigations
Short Title: SuB25-Gestures

Date: 02-Sep-2020 - 02-Sep-2020
Location: London, United Kingdom
Contact Person: Patrick Georg Grosz
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >
Web Site:

Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics; Pragmatics; Psycholinguistics; Semantics; Syntax

Subject Language(s): English

Call Deadline: 01-Mar-2020

Meeting Description:

''Gestures and Natural Language Semantics: Investigations at the Interface''

Special session of Sinn und Bedeutung 25, hosted at Queen Mary University of London, UK, on 2 September 2020, organized by Patrick G. Grosz & Sarah Zobel (University of Oslo).

The workshop aims to bring together researchers who work on gestures (see McNeill 1992, Kendon 2004, Lascarides & Stone 2009, Ebert & Ebert 2014, Schlenker 2018, Esipova 2019), and researchers who work on traditional areas of linguistic research, in order to investigate where gesturally and grammatically expressed meaning intertwine.

Invited Speakers:

Susan Goldin-Meadow (University of Chicago)
Emar Maier (University of Groningen)

Workshop Description:

Gestures have become a core area of investigation in the emerging field of super linguistics, which applies formal linguistic methodology to non-standard objects of study (using 'super' in its original Latinate meaning 'beyond', see Schlenker & Patel-Grosz 2018). At the same time, there are evident connection points where super linguistic research on gestures meets with formal linguistic research on traditional objects of study. Two such connection points are, for example, the domain of pronouns, demonstratives, and other referential expressions (see Kaplan 1989, Carlson 2004, Büring 2011, Elbourne 2013 for relevant background and the role of ostension) and the investigation of prosody, intonation, and discourse structuring (see Krifka 2008, Féry & Ishihara 2016, Beaver et al. 2017 for relevant background). In connection with the latter, we know that gestures are highly sensitive to information structural properties. For instance, beat gestures are generally reported to directly encode prosody and prominence, but, much more generally, most speech-accompanying gestures (including spontaneous iconic gestures) are aligned with the focus constituent in a given sentence. And beyond information structure, gestures can be used to mark speech acts and discourse moves (such as the canceling of a presupposition), especially when we use a broader definition of gestures that includes facial expressions.

Selected References

- Beaver, D., Roberts, C., Simons, M., & Tonhauser, J. (2017). Questions Under Discussion: Where Information Structure Meets Projective Content. Annual Review of Linguistics 3, 265-284.
- Büring, D. (2011). Pronouns. In K. von Heusinger et al. (eds.), Semantics: An international handbook of natural language meaning (Vol. 2, pp. 971-995). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
- Cooperrider, K. & R. Núñez (2012). Nose-pointing: Notes on a facial gesture of Papua New Guinea. Gesture 12, 103-130.
- Ebert, C., Evert, S., & Wilmes, K. (2011). Focus Marking via Gestures. Proceedings of Sinn & Bedeutung 15.
- Fenlon, J., K. Cooperrider, J. Keane, D. Brentari, & S. Goldin-Meadow (2019). Comparing sign language and gesture: Insights from pointing. Glossa - a journal of general linguistics 4, 2.1-26.
- Francis, N. (2019). Objecting to discourse moves: Presupposition denials with ''even'' and beyond. Ms., MIT.
- Greenberg, G. (2011). The Semiotic Spectrum. PhD dissertation, Rutgers.
- Kita, S. (2009). Cross-cultural variation of speech-accompanying gesture: A review. Language and cognitive processes 24, 145-167.
- Krifka, M. (2008). Basic Notions of Information Structure. Acta Linguistica Hungarica 55, 243-276.
- Maier, E. (2018). Quotation, demonstration, and attraction in sign language role shift. Theoretical Linguistics 44, 265-276.
- Schlenker, P. (2018). Gesture projection and cosuppositions. Linguistics and Philosophy 41, 295-365.
- Schlenker, P., & Patel-Grosz, P. (2018). What is Super Linguistics? Presentation at workshop ''Super Linguistics - an introduction'', University of Oslo, 10th December 2018.

Call for Papers:

We invite contributions that investigate interactions between gestural and linguistic communication, thereby explicitly addressing both sides of this research enterprise, broadly construed:

1. gestures (including facial expressions, pointing arrows in visual narratives, emojis as the substitute for gestures in computer-mediated communication)

2. natural-language phenomena (including referential expressions [e.g., pronouns or demonstratives], information structure [e.g., focus and prominence, emphasis, prosody], speech acts and discourse moves)

Possible research topics include, but are not limited to, the following, all of which aim to shed new light on questions relating to the above research enterprise:

- The gestural inventory (both manual and facial) across languages and cultures (see Kita 2009), and how gestures interact with grammar across languages.

- The range of grammatical phenomena in spoken language that can or must be accompanied by gestures.

- Types of meaning that can only be expressed by gesture.

- Grammatical/Linguistic constraints on the use of gestures.

- Differences and similarities between the (non-grammatical/language-external) pointing gestures that accompany speech and the (grammatical/language-internal) pointing signs in sign language (see Fenlon et al. 2019).

- Pointing gestures in connection with different types of pronouns, especially pronouns that are not deictic (e.g., French clitic pronouns, Cardinaletti & Starke 1999:153-154).

- Cross-cultural variation amongst pointing gestures, both in terms of hand shape (Fenlon et al. 2019) and in terms of whether they are manual or facial (Enfield 2001, Cooperrider & Núñez 2012), including lip pointing and nose pointing.

- The semantics of directional arrows in visual/pictorial representations (e.g., Greenberg 2011:162)

- Interactions between gestures and prosody / focus (e.g., Ebert, Evert & Wilmes 2011)

- Encoding of speech acts by facial-expression gestures (Kuhn & Chemla 2017) and emojis as digital gestures (Gawne & McCulloch 2019)

- Speech-accompanying gestures that accompany discourse moves such as presupposition cancellation (Francis 2019)

- Interactions between gestures and quotation (cf. Maier 2018)

- Scope interactions between gestures and linguistic material.

Please note that the rules of submission for this special session are linked to the rules applying to the main session and the second special session of Sinn und Bedeutung 25:

One person can submit at most one abstract as sole author and one abstract as co-author (or two co-authored abstracts), for the main session and both special sessions combined.

Abstracts should contain original research that, at the time of submission, has neither been published nor accepted for publication.

Abstracts should be anonymous and must not exceed two pages (letter size or A4 paper, 2.5cm or 1 inch margins on all sides, 12 point font), including examples and references. Abstracts must be submitted electronically in PDF format via EasyChair by Sunday 1 March 2020 (23:59 Central European Standard Time).

EasyChair link (for this special session only):

Page Updated: 16-Jan-2020