As a linguist, I study the interplay of speech and gesture in the linguistic construction of interactional meaning. Although talking to others can appear as a mundane activity for most people, it is actually quite a complex process. The intersubjective construction of interactional meaning includes the dynamic, sequential and simultaneous combination of various sets of verbal, vocal and visual resources. The modalities, features and rules of such combinations have yet to be spelt out.

The core of my work bears on the grammatical features of gesture forms and functions, with a focus on how recurrent gestures compare and combine with discourse markers. As part of the body of work on linguistic studies of gesture, my research contributes to questioning the boundaries of what counts as “language”, showing that what is traditionally defined as “paralinguistic” can be linguistic to some extent.

So as to capture the multimodality of language use in interaction, I work from videotaped corpora of spoken interactions, which are manually transcribed and annotated. I like to combine qualitative sequential analysis with multifactorial statistics based on systematic coding. Some of my publications bear on the practical, methodological and epistemological issues at stake in using videotaped corpora for linguistics research.

I am also interested in how speakers learn to combine speech and gesture so as to interact with others. I participate in research projects on children’s language development and socialization based on corpora of multipartite family interactions. I also conduct research on how speakers of different native tongues mobilize speech and gesture during tandem interactions, i.e. interactions between a native speaker and a language learner.

Lastly, I have a strong interest in the politics of situated multimodal language use. My research has in that respect focused on the use of gesture in political discourse, and on the multimodal semiotics of political graffiti.

Main analytical approach

Multimodal Interactional Linguistics

Corpora I have worked on

Videotaped corpora of : ordinary conversations, semi-guided conversations, L1/L2 tandem interactions, adult-child interactions, political discourse
A corpus of university political graffitis

Research topics and objects

Grammar and gestures, interplay between gestures and verbal markers (stance markers, pragmatic markers, discourse markers, modal particles), multimodal constructions
Language socialisation, language acquisition, multimodal approaches to language learning
Multimodal usage-based grammars, corpus-based linguistics

Preferred methods

Qualitative and sequential analysis
Coding (ELAN) + multifactorial statistics (Multiple Correspondence Analysis in R)

Favourite frameworks

Interactional linguistics, conversation analysis, discourse analysis, discourse-functional linguistics, usage-based grammars, linguistic ethnography, linguistic anthropology, cognitive linguistics, multimodal semiotics