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.
The research project is supported by the Swedish Research Council Grant 2018-01281 and hosted at the Division for Cognitive Semiotics, Centre for Languages and Literature, Lund University from 01/01/2019 to 31/12/2021.