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Asli Özyürek gives inaugural lecture on May 26
May 24, 2011
For fifteen years now, Asli Özyürek (Turkey, 1967) has been studying language within the context of gestures, especially focussing on iconic gestures. This new research perspective on language has generated new knowledge and publications in top journals such as Science.
Blind people also gestureGestures seem to play a crucial role in language processing. "It is almost impossible not to gesture when you talk, even blind people gesture while they're talking to other blind people and on the phone. People gesture to get their message across as they do when they talk. When you tell someone you are cutting something while making a cutting motion, the message is understood more accurately and remembered longer."
Double essence of language
There is more and more evidence in the cognitive sciences that our bodily and sensory motor experiences play a role in language structure, semantics and their processing, Özyürek concludes. "What my research and that of others has recently shown is converging evidence for this by looking at meaningful visible actions people use during language use -- in gestures used along with spoken languages or in signed languages."
"In my inaugural lecture, I will try to spell out how meaningful visible bodily actions interface with abstract linguistic structures and their processing -- reflecting double essences of language. Simply put, we can learn a lot about language, communication and cognition by looking at how we 'act' in communication rather than only looking at what we 'say'."
See also this news item (in Dutch) on RU's website.