Kate Davidson (Harvard linguistics)


Thursday, January 26, 2017, 12:00pm to 1:30pm


WJH 765

Combining continuous and discrete representations in speech, sign, and gesture

Human language is infinitely productive because it makes use of discrete symbolic representations that can combine with each other to form new structures with new meanings. This is equally true of spoken languages and sign languages, but the latter have often been considered to include additional levels of continuous/depictive representations, which are typically outside the domain of traditional linguistic analysis. In this talk I will discuss a series of experimental studies which show that these are naturally compared to combination of spoken language plus gesture, and then discuss formal semantic models of how continuous and discrete representations compose in several examples of sign+gesture and speech+gesture.