Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for Linguistic Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists
Primary Theme: Identity and Equity
Secondary Theme: The Visual
This session investigates how gesture and embodied interaction are used in food-related talk (Szatrowski 2014). The data come from conversations over or about food between acquaintances on SKYPE in English as a Lingua Franca (ELF), among friends in casual settings and Dairy Taster Brunches in Japanese, and Taster Lunches in German and native/non-native English. Our approach builds on research related to the cooperative, distributed, systematic use of public signs from diverse mutually elaborating semiotic resources (Goodwin 2011, Streeck, Goodwin & LeBaron 2011), “environmentally coupled gestures whose understanding requires taking into account the structure in the environment” to which they are tied (Goodwin 2007), multimodal assessment (Goodwin & Goodwin 1992, Goodwin 2007) and emotion as embodied performance (Goodwin, M. & Goodwin, C. 2000). The papers show how embodied actions are orchestrated through multimodal coordination and simultaneity of talk, prosody, facial expressions, gaze, head nods, touch, body posture, gesture (iconics, deictics (McNeill 1992)), environmentally coupled gestures, and objects in the environment.
The first paper “Meaning-making through gestures in Skype food talks” demonstrates how ELF speakers use gestures for food description, recipe telling, and food stories in intercultural SKYPE interactions. Multi-modality is important for negotiating personal and cultural identities and creating rapport.
The second paper “Food experience and assessment in Japanese talk-in-interaction” investigates how participants express and co-construct food assessments in spontaneous talk about their past and present food experiences. Food assessment is a holistic activity through which linguistic and non-linguistic resources are exploited to assess collaboratively the taste, visual appearance, food ingredients and preparation, etc. in food experiences.
The third paper “Gesturing with onomatopoeia in Japanese Dairy Taster Brunches” examines how Japanese participants use gestures with onomatopoeia to express sound, physical and emotional states while describing eating activities, recipes, cooking techniques and sensory assessments. Participants used embodied performances of sensory experiences related to sight, smell, sound, texture, and taste to complement and justify their identifications, descriptions and assessments of dairy products.
The fourth paper “Evaluative gestures in German Taster Lunches” demonstrates how evaluative gestures (pointing, head-shaking, body movements, facial expressions) are used in initial reactions, tasting, negotiating and concluding complex joint evaluative sequences of food evaluation. Nonverbal evaluation is a key element for interactive negotiation in the evaluation of known and unknown food.
The fifth paper “Using nonverbal resources to ‘talk’ during a meal” investigates how multiple semiotic resources are used to communicate when one’s mouth is full in Taster Lunches among native and non-native English speakers. Participants used gaze, gesture (pointing), language, etc. to take/ decline a turn, ask and answer questions, and supplement talk. Verbal and nonverbal resources are crucial for meaning creation in embodied interaction.
This session furthers our understanding of how speakers use embodied actions, multimodality and environmentally coupled gestures to negotiate related to their sensory perception of food, food description and assessment, food preparation, and the eating activity process. The analyses contribute to the growing body of research on language and food, and research on the organization of human action, cognition and social life.