Multimodal Representation of Shared Cultural Knowledge in a Creolophone Community

Melanie Anna Anna Brück
University of Cologne, Germany

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Ingår i: Proceedings from the 3rd European Symposium on Multimodal Communication, Dublin, September 17-18, 2015

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 105:3, s. 13-18

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Publicerad: 2016-09-16

ISBN: 978-91-7685-679-6

ISSN: 1650-3686 (tryckt), 1650-3740 (online)


This paper discusses how cultural aspects interact with both vocal and gestural features in multimodal communication, and, more specifically, how shared cultural knowledge influences the form and function of gestures. For this, the multimodal representation of shared cultural knowledge in Kreol Seselwa (KS), a French-based creole language spoken on the Seychelles, will be analysed. The domain of shared cultural knowledge investigated here is spatial orientation and conceptualisation, focusing on the three spatial Frames of Reference (FoR) defined as intrinsic, relative and absolute. Both elicited and semi- spontaneous data collected on the Seychelles show that one striking feature of this creolophone community seems to be a dynamic use of several FoRs in everyday communication. It will be illustrated that in KS it is the availability of culturally shared knowledge, amongst other factors such as modality and context, which influences the choice for a certain FoR. On the gestural level, the data show how culturally shared knowledge of Kreol Seselwa speakers is represented by phonological features as well as the use of abstraction in pointing gestures referring to existing places. Furthermore, the data illustrate the dynamics of merging deictic and iconic elements in gestures accompanying locally-anchored narrations and how this reveals aspects of shared background knowledge. The representation of shared cultural knowledge in KS across modalities emphasises the importance of interpreting multimodal data in the light of the micro-ecology of communication, taking both linguistic and extra-linguistic factors into account.


Spatial Reference, Frames of Reference, Multimodality, Shared Cultural Knowledge, Micro-ecology of Communication, Creole Languages


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