Spontaneous depictions in everyday discourse

30. August 2012


In everyday discourse, people rely on three basic methods of communicating. They can describe things, placing them into categories. They can indicate things, locating them for their addressees. And they can depict things, creating physical analogues of the appearance of those things. People ordinarily use these methods in combinations. When I produce, “He [pointing at a photo of Frankenstein] is disgusting [grimacing],” I am combining a description (with “He is disgusting”), an indication (by pointing), and a depiction (by grimacing). All three methods can be both verbal and non-verbal. But how do people combine these forms in everyday discourse? And how do they integrate information of such disparate types as categories, locations, and appearances? I will focus on spontaneous depictions and how they combine with descriptions.

Herbert H. Clark is one out of 6 keynote speakers giving lectures within the framework of the CITEC Summer School. Everybody who is interested is welcome to attend his talk.