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Multimodality in Interaction

Book Contribution - Chapter

In this chapter, we present a plea for a stronger inclusion of two strands of research in Cognitive Linguistics, viz. the analysis of meaning construction and coordination in interactional language use, and the study of multimodal meaning making cues (such as gesture, posture and gaze) as essential ingredients of naturally occurring spoken language. Based on the very foundations of the cognitive-linguistic enterprise, we argue that a true usage-based cognitive approach needs to maximally incorporate all relevant dimensions of the usage events under scrutiny, including the dynamics and peculiarities of spoken-interactional language as well as the trade-off between different semiotic channels.In three sections, we present an overview of existing (and ongoing) work in Cognitive Linguistics that sets the agenda for a recontextualization of linguistic research towards multimodality in interaction. A first section reviews relevant studies that focus on (inter)active and creative meaning construction in spoken language. A second part zooms in on the multimodal dimension and shows how a multilayered analysis, taking into account the interaction between verbal and non-verbal layers of semiosis, is gradually gaining ground in Cognitive Linguistics. This is apparent, among others, in the recent development of a multimodal approach to construction grammar, focusing on recurrent patterns in the co-occurrence of verbal and gestural features. In the third section, the interactional and multimodal perspective are brought together in three specific case studies (interaction management, multimodal alignment and intersubjective stance taking), showing how the conceptual and methodological toolbox of Cognitive Linguistics can be used to study the dynamic, interactive and essentially multimodal meaning making processes that govern face-to-face communication.
Book: The Cambridge Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics
Pages: 135 - 156
Publication year:2017