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Special Collection

Situating language in the real-world

Collection launched: 21 Aug 2021

The collection presents a discussion of our proposal that we should broaden our lens from the study of language “as a system”, in which the focus is on speech or manual components of signs, to language “as situated” in real-world face-to-face interactions in which language comprises categorical components of speech and signs, and multimodal cues such as prosody, gestures, eye gaze etc.

The main paper presents the language “as situated” view and reviews work concerning the role of context-dependent iconic and indexical cues in language acquisition and processing. It demonstrates the pervasiveness of non-arbitrariness and discuss its function in supporting children and adults in dynamically developing situational models.

The commentaries discuss the relationship between the language “as a system” and language “as situated” views highlighting their mutual dependencies (as non-arbitrariness is also present in speech/signs and conventionality is also present in gestures), they consider the consequences of studying iconicity only from the “system” perspective and the relation between situated language and embodiment.