Adam Kendon

Semiotic diversity is intrinsic to utterance production: implications for concepts of ‘language’
Visiting Scholar, Institute for Research in Cognitive Science,
University of Pennsylvania

In this talk I offer examples to illustrate some of the different ways in which visible bodily actions of the face, the head or the hands may co-ordinate with the production of spoken expressions with consequences for the semantic interpretation of the utterance being produced. In the light of these examples I suggest, following in the wake of Dwight Bolinger’s paper on ‘Yep’ and ‘Nope’ from 1946, that the boundary between what is ‘language’ and what is not is at least partly a matter of methodological convenience. A comparative semiotic approach is recommended in which utterances are viewed as orchestrations of diverse semiotic systems. In this way we may be able to leave behind the sometimes emotionally freighted discussions about whether something is to be considered ‘linguistic’ or not.

Bolinger, Dwight (1946). Some thoughts on 'yep' and 'nope'. American Speech, 21, 90-95.

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