Advances in the study of semiotic repertoires: mobilities, modalities, spatialities
Organizer: Annelies Kusters, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh
Recent years have seen a
Analyzing spatial repertoires from a New Materialist perspective
Suresh Canagarajah, Pennsylvania State University
Though applied linguists have expanded their orientations of analyzing language interactions to spatial repertoires, their analysis is largely influenced by the traditional structuralist assumptions of methodological individualism, human agency, and cognitive representationalism.
Drawing from my research on the communicative practice of international STEM scholars, I illustrate how an orientation to spatial repertoires can move beyond the structuralist assumptions. I narrate the case study of Gunter, a Turkish doctoral candidate in entomology. In a co-authored article that reviews 79 publications on the causes for the overwintering of honeybees, Gunter attempts to represent the state of the art in a figure. He is dissatisfied with his attempts because he doesn’t have the skills and technical resources to represent what he has in mind. Thereafter, he collaborates with a technician in his lab. As they engage in drawing, Gunter finds that the activity clarifies his ideas and generates a new hypothesis that proves to be significant for his future research. He stated in a stimulated recall interview that the visual
Semiotic repertoires: Learning from the semiotic ecology of an online, video-only-mediated, classroom
Johan Hjulstad, Oslo Metropolitan University
The presentation builds on a
The investigation reveals that the participants quickly adapt to this video-only mediated environment and do so by mutually orienting and attending to various aspects of material and spatial resources in their collaborative meaning-making. The use of gaze and the alignment of bodies in relation to the mediated visual space plays a significant role
Communicative repertoires between situated interaction, normative Discourse, and lived experience: Exploring processes of ‘language shaming’
Brigitta Busch, University of Vienna
With the recent revival of Gumperz’ (1964) notion of the verbal repertoire, now commonly referred to as linguistic/communicative/semiotic repertoire, many scholars have tended to locate the repertoire with individual speakers and their life trajectories. In turn, others see the repertoire as emerging from the particular social or spatial arrangements in which interactions take place. What is often underestimated is the importance of the bodily and emotionally lived experience of communicative interaction. These can be critical in preventing communicative resources from being deployed even though they are individually available and appropriate to the situation, or conversely, in mobilizing unexpected resources to achieve understanding.
Conceiving the repertoire as holding an intermediate and mediating position between interactions situated in time and space, (sometimes competing) discourses on linguistic appropriateness, and subjects’ emotionally and bodily lived experiences of language, this paper examines the interplay of these instances by analyzing narratives in which feelings of shame linked to particular ways of speaking/interacting are articulated. Understanding communication primarily as an inter-subjective and inter-corporal gesture towards the other (Merleau-Ponty, 1962), I discuss how in moments of shame the acting and perceiving subject-body turns into an object-body that views itself through the eyes of others. What then comes into play are
Experiences of language shaming can leave long-lasting imprints on the repertoire when they are “inscribed into the body” (Butler 1997) because of their conspicuous affective character or frequent reiteration. Such embodied experiences can result in linguistic insecurity and in patterns of communicative practices such as language avoidance, silence, hypercorrectness, or speaking back. Taking into account the impact of
Moral orientation and the mobile semiotic repertoire
Erin Moriarty Harrelson and Annelies Kusters, Heriot-Watt University
How is the use and expansion of the semiotic repertoire when engaging in international mobility tied up with moral orientations of interactants? Our approach to this question is based on linguistic ethnography with deaf people who engage in short-term forms of international mobilities such as conference attendance, sports competitions, and tourism. Deaf people engaging in international mobilities make use of semiotic resources that can include International Sign; the learning and use of different sign languages; gesturing; mouthing, writing and fingerspelling in different languages and scripts; speech; and drawing. International Sign (IS) is used between signers from different (sign) linguistic backgrounds, and it typically combines features of different sign languages, mouthings derived from English or other languages, and intensive use of iconic structures.
As evident in this presentation, mobile deaf people often quickly expand their linguistic repertoires by engaging in rapid, immersive and informal (sign) language learning and direct communication in IS because they are morally oriented towards each other (Green 2014). Other examples of morally-driven communicative practices include language brokering and the pooling and sharing of linguistic resources between two or more people in order to achieve understanding. Project data demonstrate how mobile deaf people’s use of diverse communicative resources as they engage with interlocutors are shaped by ideologies that include moral ideas about what linguistic resources are most appropriate in specific contexts and/or with/by whom. Examples include ideas about the power and dominance of certain sign languages, especially American Sign Language (ASL). We show how the learning of foreign sign languages, resistance towards the use of ASL and English, and sometimes even IS, as morally correct behaviors are entwined with fears about linguistic contamination and hegemonic languages/modalities. These interactional practices thus foreground the accumulation and deployment of linguistic resources as a moral practice, sometimes resulting in situations where the most effective communicative resources are not used, in the interests of morality.