It is widely accepted that in order to communicate intellectual information people use language in both spoken and written form. When it comes to teaching bodily skills, however, a combination of linguistic expression and embodied emulation is needed. Experts both explain and demonstrate for novices. In this talk, I will explore pedagogical practices that appear to balance between teaching abstract mental knowledge and concrete bodily experience, resulting in the teachers’ use of multimodal structures involving both snippets of syntax and embodied demonstrations. I will also argue that various non-lexical vocalizations constitute a specific pedagogical solution to the problem of conveying bodily experiences between individuals. The data come from dance and pilates classes, as well as occasions when parents feed their infants solid foods for the very first time.
Leelo Keevallik is a professor in language and culture at Linköping University, Sweden. Her research focuses on interactional grammar and embodied interaction, with a particular interest in the relationship between language and the body. She is currently leading a project on non-lexical vocalizations, studying their use in dance teaching, parent-infant feeding, heavy physical work and at doctors' appointments. Recently she edited a special issue on this topic, "Sounds on the Margins of Language" (with Richard Ogden), in the journal Research on Language and Social Interaction.