The Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften: Events

Thursday, 11 February 2021, 11:00
Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften, Am Wingertsberg 4, 61348 Bad Homburg

Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften of Goethe-University
Fellow colloquium | Online

Cornelia Ebert (Goethe University)
»Speech is silver, gesture is golden – on the semantic contribution of speech-accompanying gestures«

Theoretical linguistic research has long focused on the analysis of spoken languages, either in their written or in their spoken form. This changed with William C. Stokoe’s pioneering work on sign languages in the 1960s, which paved the way for analyses of not only languages of the auditive-oral modality, but also of the visual-gestural modality. However, systematic formal linguistic investigations of interactions of speech and its accompanying visual means, i.e. gestures, have not been pursued until very recently – although gesture has always been an important and well-researched topic of interest in other fields such as psychology, neurosciences, or semiotics.
In my talk, I will briefly outline the pre-eminence of gesture in language, acquisition, cognitive development, and learning and sketch my own formal semantic view on gesture-speech interactions. I will show that gestures can contribute additional meaning to a verbal utterance and present experimental results showing that the temporal alignment of gesture and speech plays a crucial role in determining a gesture’s meaning.

The speaker
Cornelia Ebert has been a professor of linguistics/semantics at Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main since 2019. She received her Ph.D. in lingusitics at Potsdam University in 2006. Her thesis was titled » Quantificational topics. A scopal treatment of exceptional wide scope phenomena«. Following this she was a lecturer and a researcher at Osnabrück University, Stuttgart University and the Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft in Berlin. Since 2017 she has been a PI of the research project PSIMS: The Pragmatic Status of Iconic Meaning in Spoken Communication: Gestures, Ideophones, Prosodic Modulations. From July 2021 on she will carry out a British-German cooperative research project entitled »Interactions between Dynamic Effects and Alternative-Based Inferences in the Study of Meaning« (IDEALISM). In 2020/21 she is a Goethe Fellow at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften.

Participation and registration
Closed online event. Please register in advance. Contact: Beate Sutterlüty (

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