The AGC is pleased to invite you attend one, some, or all of the following talks, which will take place in room 12A-44 (12th floor) of the VU main building on July 15 and 17 at the times indicated below. Your feedback on the talks would be most welcome as they will be rehearsals for the upcoming International Cognitive Linguistics Conference to be held later this month in the UK:
. Most of the talks concern gesture research, and the range of languages used as data includes English, French, German, Russian, (contemporary) Mandarin Chinese, Old Chinese, and Ancient Greek. (Talks on the last two languages are not about gesture.  😉

We hope to see you there!
15 July, Wednesday
15:00   Suwei Wu – 
Multimodality of the caused motion construction
15:30   Yao Tong & A. Cienki
 – Motion, metaphor and gesture: A comparison between referential gestures
16:00   Kasper Kok
 – Gestures as blends of basic conceptual archetypes: Insights from a crowd-sourced perception study

17 July, Friday
15:00   Wesley/Mingjian Xiang & E. Pascual
 – Translating the invisible: Fictive questions in an Old Chinese text and its English translations
15:30   Arjan Nijk
 – The Ancient Greek aorist: A Cognitive Grammar view
16:00   Alan Cienki, R. Becker, D. Boutet, A. Morgenstern & O. Iriskhanova
 – Grammatical aspect, gesture, and mental simulation in Russian and French
16:30   Ronghua Wang & G. Jiang
 – Multimodal events in natural Chinese conversations: The co-speech gestural representation of aspect


Monday, Dec. 8, 14:00-15:30,
in the VU MediaXperience, Video Reflection Room
VU main building, room 1A-01

The session will be devoted to two pre-conference practice talks in preparation for the Belgium-Netherlands Cognitive Linguistics Association conference (BeNeCLA)

Yao Tong & Alan Cienki: Motor concepts, metaphor and gesture: A comparison between referential gestures referring to concrete and metaphorical motion. This research examines those spontaneous gestures in TV shows that refer metaphorically to abstract processes as motions and compares them in terms of frequency, form and function to those referring to physical motion. It aims to shed some light on whether there are similar kinds of motor imagery with which we conceptualize abstract and concrete motion.

Kasper Kok: A non-categorical approach to the grammatical functions of gesture. Recent work has suggested that gestures can overlap and intersect with the grammar of speech in terms of their semantics. In this contribution, I assess how gestures are capable of evoking the semantic domains that underlie nouns, verbs and adjectives, taking Langacker’s (1987) notion of ‘conceptual archetypes’ as a starting point. The data come from a comprehensive web-based gesture perception study, in which approximately 450 gestures were judged by naïve participants in terms of whether they represented a thing (e.g., a concrete or abstract entity); a processual relationship (e.g. the movement of some object) or a non-processual relationship (e.g. the shape, size or quantity of some object).

The meeting will be conducted in collaboration with the Multimodal Communication and Cognition Lab at Moscow State Linguistic University via Skype.

The next meeting of the Amsterdam Gesture Center will take place on

Friday, Nov. 28, 10:00-11:15,
in the VU MediaXperience, Video Reflection Room
VU main building, room 1A-01
conducted by Ronghua Wang, double PhD candidate, VU Amsterdam & Xiamen U.

Like many languages of the world, Mandarin Chinese offers a set of grammatical options for characterizing the temporal contour of events. Research in gesture studies (e.g., Duncan 2002, McNeill 2003) makes the argument that the grammatical category of aspect also has reflections in speakers’ gestures. This work is increasingly playing a role studying how the grammatical options available in a given language may influence the moment-by-moment processes of what Slobin (1987) has called “thinking for speaking”. This issue provides the basis for Ronghua’s research, involving a comparison of the functioning of aspectual categories in English and Chinese speech and gesture.

In the session on Friday, after a brief overview of the aspectual particles in Chinese, the focus will be on a set of video examples from a Chinese TV talk show. Using transcripts of the excerpts with close glosses and translations into English, the purpose of the data session will be to brainstorm about possible approaches to analyzing gestures used with utterances that include aspect-marking particles. No prior knowledge of Chinese is assumed for this session; rather non-native perspectives on the data versus those of our native Chinese speaking students will provide points of comparison for the data session.

The meeting will be conducted in collaboration with the Multimodal Communication and Cognition Lab  (PoliMod) at Moscow State Linguistic University via Skype. In this way, a team from Russia, Germany, and France researching aspect in speech and gesture in Russian, German, and French will also take part in the brainstorming.

Last week members of the Amsterdam Gesture Center participated in the Second MApping MUltimodal Dialogue Workshop, this time held in Leuven. Kasper Kok gave a presentation titled “Meaning complexes disentangled: a layered analysis of gesture function” (we hear the paper is now in press – congrats Kasper!) and Kashmiri Stec gave a presentation titled “Reporting practices and transparent designs: a meta-synthesis of methodologies used in multimodal viewpoint research” (also in press – congrats Kashi!). And Camille Debras, former member of the AGC, gave a presentation called “Dynamic multimodal clusters in the argumentative use of common ground markers”, an extension of the PhD work she did with Alan while at the AGC. Suwei and Ronghua were there for moral support.

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Left to right: Kasper, Ronghua, Camille, Kashmiri, Suwei

Oct. 3, 15:00, room 12A-44, VU University main building, De Boelelaan 1105
  • Kasper Kok: Crowdsourced data on the (multi)functionality of co-speech gesture”
Oct. 28, 13:00, VU MediaXperience, Video Reflection Room
  • Yao Tong: Data session — discussion of video data for analysis of motor concepts, metaphor, and gesture
Nov. 6, 15:00, VU MediaXperience, Video Reflection Room
  • Suwei Wu: Session to discuss some readings
Dec. 8, 14:00-16:15, VU MediaXperience, Video Reflection Room
Three pre-conference practice talks in preparation for the Belgium-Netherlands Cognitive Linguistics Conference
  • Yao Tong & Alan Cienki: Motor concepts, metaphor and gesture: The comparison between referential gestures referring to concrete and metaphorical motor concepts
  • Kasper Kok: A non-categorical approach to the grammatical functions of gesture
The Amsterdam Gesture Center, in collaboration with the Metaphor Lab, is pleased to invite you to a lunchtime talk and data session on Tuesday, 16 September 2014, 12:45 in room 10A-13, 10th floor of the VU main building (De Boelelaan 1105)
(please feel free to bring your lunch!).
Metaphor co-creation in conversations
How do groups co-create metaphors in conversations? And what role does gesture play? Using six semi-structured conversations, I am analyzing metaphors for knowledge in language, in gesture and in a structure that each group makes out of LEGO bricks. In this session I will briefly present my approach and findings as well as a number of gesture examples to analyze and discuss on the spot. Linda Greve – MA of Theology and Rhetorics. PhD-scholar at Department of Business Communication, Aarhus University, Denmark – will touch on these issues and more in her talk. Please join us!

Thursday, 4 September 2014, 13:30, room 12A-44, main building of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Gesture Pragmatics: Embodied function and form of discourse management gestures

Elisabeth Wehling (University of California, Berkeley)

In face-to-face discourse, pragmatic gestures commonly rely on the same embodied concepts that structure thought and language (McNeill 1992; Müller 2004; Sweetser 1998). While gestures that serve to control discourse events have been noted (Kendon 1995, 2004; Calbris 1990), the majority of pragmatic gesture research emphasizes communicative cooperation and inclusion (Bavelas et al. 1992, 1995; Kendon 1995, 2004; Müller 2004).

Based on an analysis of 28 minutes of political debate, this study proposes a distinction between two types of pragmatic gestures that manage discourse interaction (Discourse Management Gestures; DMGs, henceforth): those that serve inclusive-cooperative functions and those that serve control functions. Moreover, the data analysis reveals that both DMG types frequently rely on metaphoric construals of communicative force as physical force and communicative space as physical space. To acquire a better understanding of the form and function of DMGs that rely on such metaphoric construals, they are (i) distinguished from non-metaphoric and conventionalized gestures, and (ii) analyzed for their underlying force-dynamic construals (Talmy 1981, 1988). Moreover, the data analysis reveals that metaphoric, force-dynamic DMGs are used with much higher frequency (96%) than non-metaphoric (1%) and conventionalized (3%) DMGs. Probable reasons for this phenomenon are discussed in terms of the embodied concepts that guide our understanding of face-to-face communication and different types thereof, such as amicable conversation and argument.

Elisabeth Wehling, Ph.D., is a researcher in Cognitive Science & Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley and the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley. She conducts research on the embodied and conceptual bases of political framing, morality, and gesture.

The first AGC meeting of the 2014-15 academic year will be held on Tuesday, September 2nd, 15:30-16:45 in room 12A-44 of the main building of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Everyone is welcome to attend to help us plan events for the coming semester.

We are pleased to announce that the AGC’s three PhD students (Kasper Kok, Kashmiri Stec & Suwei Wu) were awarded grants by ISGS to cover their registration fees at this summer’s conference.

The AGC is happy to announce a visitor for the 2014-15 academic year:

Ronghua Wang (Xiamen University, Xiamen City) is doing a project on “The role of co-speech gestures in foreign language vocabulary acquisition”. This involves an experiment with school children in China who are just starting classes in English. The question is to what degree the use of iconic gesture ‘signs’ helps them in the acquisition of new vocabulary in English.