Language in our hands: The role of the body in language, cognition and communication [Inaugural lecture]
(2011). Language in our hands: The role of the body in language, cognition and communication [Inaugural lecture]
. Nijmegen: Radboud University Nijmegen.
Even though most studies of language have focused on speech channel and/or viewed language as an
amodal abstract system, there is growing evidence on the role our bodily actions/ perceptions play in language and communication.
In this context, Özyürek discusses what our meaningful visible bodily actions reveal about our language capacity. Conducting cross-linguistic, behavioral, and neurobiological research,
she shows that co-speech gestures reflect the imagistic, iconic aspects of events talked about and at the same time interact with language production and
comprehension processes. Sign languages can also be characterized having an abstract system of linguistic categories as well as using iconicity in several
aspects of the language structure and in its processing.
Studying language multimodally reveals how grounded language is in our visible bodily actions and opens
up new lines of research to study language in its situated,
natural face-to-face context.