Brück, Melanie Anna (2016). Lalang, Zes ek Kiltir - Multimodal Reference Marking in Kreol Seselwa. PhD thesis, Universität zu Köln.


Download (7MB)


This dissertation is the first cross-disciplinary study of the interaction of speech, gesture and culture in a Creolophone community. Focusing on the multimodal strategies of person and spatial reference of Kreol Seselwa (KS), it combines theoretical and methodological approaches from Creolistics, Gesture Studies, and Anthropological Linguistics. It constitutes a holistic analysis of communicative interaction in the very special linguistic, sociohistorical and sociocultural environment of the Seychelles. The overall hypothesis is that reference is an inherently dynamic process involving three levels: (1) the linguistic forms available in both speech and gesture, (2) the mobilisation of these forms in situated communicative interaction, and (3) embedding these forms and strategies in a micro-ecology of communication specific to the Seychelles. After introducing key theoretical notions of the study of Reference, Creole languages, Gesture, and Anthropological Linguistics, the analysis starts with the first level – gestural and spoken form features of KS. Combining previous work on KS with data from my own corpus I describe the lexical and grammatical features relevant to reference in this languages, such as the article system, number marking and the occurrence of bare nouns. Also the form features of KS gestures are presented, some of which already show differences in person and spatial reference. In a second step, the study analyses the mobilisation of these reference forms in communicative interaction. The close interaction between the two modalities is demonstrated in both spatial and person reference. In spatial reference, it is shown that gesture and speech complement each other in the construction of figure-ground arrays. Furthermore, the absolute frame of reference tends to be expressed in the gestural modality while the relative frame of reference is conveyed in speech. In person reference, I provide evidence that in KS the preferences for recognition and association are ranked higher than the preference for minimisation. The high level of context-dependency and the role of information structure in KS person and spatial reference is further illustrated with multimodal examples. In a third step, the patterns of multimodal reference marking are embedded in a micro-ecology of communication specific to the Seychelles. It is argued that geographic, sociocultural and sociohistorical aspects of this Postcolonial society are reflected in the strategies of referring to individuals and locations. A focus is set on the factors of shared cultural knowledge, hybridity and flexibility. Finally, I discuss the implications of the results for the nature of gesture as well as the nature of reference, leading to the conclusion that reference is indeed a multimodal and dynamic process that involves not only static reference forms but is actively constructed in a communicative interaction that is embedded in a micro-ecology of communication.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD thesis)
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
Brück, Melanie Annabrueckm@uni-koeln.deUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-79646
Date: 2016
Language: English
Faculty: Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Fächergruppe 5: Moderne Sprachen und Kulturen > Englisches Seminar I
Subjects: Language, Linguistics
Romance languages French
Italic Latin
Other languages
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Creolistics, Gesture, Culture, Anthropological Linguistics, Ecology of Communication, Spatial Reference, Person Reference, Multimodality, Conversation Analysis, ContextEnglish
Date of oral exam: 24 November 2016
NameAcademic Title
Adone, DanyProf. Dr.
Nonaka, AngelaProf. Dr.
Refereed: Yes


Downloads per month over past year


Actions (login required)

View Item View Item