Archives for the month of: October, 2012

Katja Abramova
PhD candidate at Radboud University, Nijmegen
Gesture and the iterated learning paradigm

I will present a study that was recently carried out by Simon Kirby, Kenny Smith, and myself at the University of Edinburgh that applies the iterated learning paradigm to the gestural modality. We attempted to replicate a grammaticalization pattern that was described in the development of Nicaraguan Sign Language from different ‘home sign’ systems: the progressive segmentation and linearization of motion event expressions in newer generations of users of the emerging sign language (Senghas, Kita and Ozyurek, 2004). The original interpretation of this pattern emphasized the role of the critical period in driving the observed change. We were interested in testing whether a similar result could be obtained in a group of adult hearing participants if they were placed in a transmission chain. If successful, it would instead point to the role of culture in this phenomenon and at the same time help generalize the iterated learning paradigm to a new modality. In addition to outlining the motivation for the study, I will describe the experimental set-up and present our preliminary results.


Workshop at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, home of the Nijmegen Gesture Center

Dynamic multimodal communication:
Work in progress by members of the Amsterdam Gesture Center

Introduction of the Amsterdam Gesture Center
– Alan Cienki, VU Amsterdam

Multimodal stancetaking in ethical discussions about the environment
– Camille Debras, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris

12:30-13:30: lunch

Multimodal quotes
– Kashmiri Stec, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

Collective remembering: Coordination, collaboration and distribution in multimodal interactions
– Lucas Bietti, Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut Essen/VU Amsterdam

15:00-15:30: break

Researching discursive features of horizontal entrepreneurship in relation to social change: Combining Critical Discourse Analysis and gesture studies
– Nicolina Montesano Montessori, Hogeschool Utrecht/VU Amsterdam, and Alan Cienki, VU Amsterdam


The AGC meets about once a month. Our next meeting takes place on October 25 at the VU. Vaclav Brezina will discuss his work on epistemic markers in spoken English and Tessa van Charldorp will present her ideas for a research project on authority to knowledge and ownership of digital technology. Both will consider the potential role that gesture analysis may play in their research. The following meeting will take place on November 12 with the Gesture Center at the Max Planck Institute in Nijmegen. Please write Alan Cienki or amsterdamgesturecenter AT for more information.

At the Amsterdam Gesture Center, based at the Vrije Universiteit/VU, we study the interplay of audible and visible bodily actions in communicative settings. Spoken language is not only ‘audio’ in nature but can also have visual components – that is: it is multimodal (audio-visual) to varying degrees. While our focus is on manual gesture with speech, we also take other bodily movements into consideration, such as bodily position, eye gaze, etc. Here, you can find out who is doing research at the AGC and what we’re up to.