ASA Conference Oxford September 18-21 2018 - Panel - Semiosis as Orchestration

In comprising all sign systems, including language, semiosis is viewed as multi-modal communication. The sensory modalities of sound, touch, sight, smell and taste may each assume dominance in specific interactions as when visual takes over from acoustic signing in a deaf community. Do particular domains of communication privilege one or more modalities over others? While modalities may reinforce each other (e.g. hand gestures in face-to-face speech), do they also sometimes obstruct communication (e.g. when written texts contradict what people hear or see; or when icon, index and symbol point in different directions)? These queries raise the broader question of how human communication is ‘orchestrated’. Whether taking the form of face-to-face or dispersed interaction, what or who ‘conducts’ the discourse and tries to keep it bounded and tied into a mutually recognisable theme? In the last instance, is verbal language the ultimate source of explanation and clarification when modalities clash? The analogy of orchestration is of limited usefulness but invites exploration of the play of modalities which are intentionally or unintentionally deployed to secure coherence and of the misunderstandings and communication breakdowns that may also occur.      

Full details of the panel can be seen here.