SOCIAL – Semiotics Of Communication In interActive Languaging

SOCIAL – Semiotics Of Communication In interActive Languaging

This is modality. illustrasjon
Copyright: Calle Börstell


The SOCIAL Research group investigates various linguistic and semiotic phenomena, while considering the inherent multimodal, multilingual, semiotic diversity that characterizes systematic as well as emergent practices across various interactional environments. Attitudes towards and ideologies underlying these practices are equally at the heart of what we discuss in our group.

We study these issues using different methods, including but not limited to corpus-based studies, surveys, ethnographic methods like interviews and participant observation, conversation analysis, and discourse analysis.

The main aim is to provide a detailed picture of the languaging practices found within and across different interactional settings, while respecting diverse ways of being.

How do humans communicate and interact with each other? One might say there are many paths up the mountain, each underwritten by our embodied perceptual and motor systems: a speaker may replicate the routine of tying their shoes as a deliberate communicative act accompanied with a parallel spoken utterance ,“Did you remember to tie your shoes?"; a deaf signer of Norwegian Sign Language places her palms together by one side of her face while tilting her head and closing her eyes to show a boy falling asleep for the night; when trying to explain complex concepts, speakers and listeners may use and reference each others’ gestures, as well as spoken words, to demonstrate “I know exactly what you mean” and the conversation can continue. Finally, tourists might experience the tourist space via printed advertisements, guidebooks, televised travel programmes and social media dedicated to travelling.

In each context, each individual engages with others in their environment on their own terms, making use of the various bodily articulators (a voice, hands, body), strategies for communicating (speech, visible and tactile actions, numerical symbols) via different media (books, newspapers, TV, online media) available to them in that moment and physical space.

Social interaction, then, is best considered a dynamic, multimodal affair, where people recruit a diverse range of semiotic resources, including all the languages that they know, to attend to each other and achieve their interactional goals.


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