Workshop “Linguistic investigations beyond language: gestures, body movement and primate linguistics”

Cornelia Ebert (ZAS, PSIMS), Uli Sauerland (ZAS, LISI), Jeremy Kuhn (Institut Jean Nicod, CNRS)

Time and venue:
March 11-12, 2019 at ZAS Berlin

In recent years, formal linguistic methodology and methodology inspired by formal linguistics have been systematically applied to non-standard objects of study. Three core areas that have been explored encompass the syntax/semantics of gestures (Lascarides & Stone 2009, Giorgolo 2010, Ebert and Ebert 2014, Tieu et al. 2017, Schlenker 2018), the syntax/semantics of body movement beyond gestures, such as dance (Napoli & Kraus 2015, Charnavel 2016, Patel-Grosz et al. 2018), and the calls and gestures of non-human animals, in particular primates (Fitch and Hauser 2004, Yip 2006, Berwick et al. 2011, Schlenker et al. 2016).
All of these domains are structured systems of communication that are ‘outside’ of language, whether that be because they are performed by humans who do not use language for functional or expressive reasons (gesture and dance) or because they are performed by nonhuman primates without the capacity for human language. The workshop’s emphasis on body movements in particular allows a potential bridge between the communicative and narrative actions by humans and their evolutionary antecedents in primate gestures (Kersken et al. 2018).
The aim of this workshop is to bring together researchers applying formal linguistic methodology and methodology inspired by formal linguistics to gesture, body movement and primate linguistics. Topics of interest include (non-exhaustively) the syntax/semantics of:

  • co-speech, pro-speech and post-speech gestures
  • gestures in non-human animals, such as chimpanzees and other great apes
  • vocalizations of non-human primates
  • the interaction between gesture and dance
  • dance movements in both highly conventionalized and non-conventionalized dance forms
  • facial expressions in humans and non-human primates

Invited speakers: Cat Hobaiter (University of St.Andrews), Julie Hunter (University Pompeu Fabra), Pritty Patel-Grosz (University of Oslo)

Call for papers

We invite submissions from the subfields of syntax and semantics, that apply formal generative linguistic methodology and formal methodology inspired by generative linguistics to one or more of the areas of investigation outlined above. Abstracts should be written in 12 pt font, with 1 inch (2.54 cm) margins, and must not exceed 2-pages (A4 or letter size). Only PDF files will be accepted. The submission must not reveal the identity of the author(s).

Abstract submission deadline: December 15th 2018
Notification of acceptance: January 4th 2019

Please submit abstracts to:

In the body of the email, please provide the following information:

[1] Title
[2] Author name(s) (first, last)
[3] Affiliation(s)
[4] Key words

Questions should be directed to