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Asli Ozyurek -


My research in general investigates the relations between the body, language, cognition and communication. The underlying question is to what extent our bodily actions interact with or shape language structures, its processing and use in communication.

To answer this question my research program proceeds in 4 different strands:


1)    Co-speech gestures: What do gestures we use tell us about language processing and comprehension during speaking? To answer this question I conduct research on

  • Cross-linguistic comparison of gesture use
  • The development of the relations between gesture and language in children
  • Neuro-(cognition) of gesture and speech comprehension


2)    Sign Language: What is the role that visual-spatial modality play in structuring language? To what extent the structures and patterns of language use we see in spoken languages are universal and to what extent are they specific to using either a spoken or visual language? To do so I investigate

  • Expressions and use of space in different sign languages (e.g., Turkish Sign Language and German Sign Languages)

turksih sign language TID adult

  • Comparison of acquisition of spatial language in deaf children learning a sign language and hearing children learning a spoken language

TID child


3)    Emerging language and communication systems: What do emerging language systems (i.e., emerging sign languages, homesign systems) tell us about our ability to communicate and the fundamental nature of language?


4)    From action to language:

How do we distinguish practical actions from communicative actions (i.e., gesture, language)? To what extent communicative intentions play a role in action versus gesture comprehension? And what role do actions play in early development of children's action verbs (in speech or sign) and gestures?

Last checked 2018-08-21

Asli Ozyurek

Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
PO Box 310
6500 AH Nijmegen
The Netherlands