The Joint Faculties of Humanities and Theology | Lund University

Polysemiotic communication: Integrating language, gesture and depiction in three cultural practices

Project description

POLYSEM aims to potentiate insights into the polysemiotic nature of human
communication by investigating the integration of three distinct semiotic systems –
language, gesture, and depiction – as instantiated in specific semiotic resources such as
speaking, bodily movements and drawings. We aim to fill theoretical, methodological
and empirical gaps in the field by analysing the communicative strategies used in three
different cultural practices to convey abstract meanings related to kinship structures,
mythologies and scientific knowledge. The three cultural practices under study are
Paamese sand drawings (Vanuatu), sand story telling (Central Australia), and
classroom teaching (Sweden). Despite obvious differences, all three serve to convey
abstract knowledge related to kinship, mythology and science, and all combine language,
gesture and depiction in what we term polysemiotic communication.