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Gestural Meanings: Typology and Interface Constraints

The project investigates channel-independent universals of meaning composition and channel-specific constraints on meaning expression.

About the project

When we speak, we convey meaning via various means: lexicalized spoken morphemes; less lexicalized vocalizations (vocal gestures); movements of the hands, face, or other parts of the body (body gestures) of varied lexicalization status; prosody, including non-obligatory modulations of the prosodic structure (prosodic gestures).

There are, furthermore, different types of meaning we can convey: we can exchange facts about the world, performatively express our immediate emotions or aspects of our identity, communicate our non-immediate attitudes, etc. This project investigates how different types of truth-based, but not-at-issue (e.g., quotative, optative, mirative, etc.) and non-truth-based (e.g., expressive) meaning are conveyed via various means, with focus on gesture, broadly construed.


The project aims to study the following empirical questions and their theoretical implications for different types of not-at-issue and non-truth-based meaning, systematically comparing gestural and non-gestural means of meaning expression:

  1. Does the target piece of meaning have to interact semantically with its syntactic surroundings?
  2. To what extent can the target piece of meaning be ignored under ellipsis and in attitude reports?
  3. How does the target piece of meaning interact with indexicality, i.e., context-dependence, namely, how rigidly is it itself anchored to the context of the utterance, and/or how does its presence affect the interpretation of other context-dependent meanings?



The EU-flag.

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 891493.

Published Nov. 16, 2021 9:57 AM - Last modified Dec. 9, 2021 11:24 AM