Affordable Access

Access to the full text

Objects and materiality in pragmatic development: Here-and-now to then and-there

  • Geenen, Jarret1
  • 1 Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, Comeniuslaan 4, 6500 HC , (Netherlands)
Published Article
Multimodal Communication
De Gruyter
Publication Date
Dec 15, 2020
DOI: 10.1515/mc-2020-0020
De Gruyter


Language acquisition involves more than learning how to produce words in complex strings. It involves a diversity of aptitudes about how, when, with whom and in what way to use language abilities. While it is acknowledged that these skills are learned through social interaction (Blum-Kulka, S. (1997). Dinner talk: cultural patterns of sociability and socialization in family discourse. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc, Mahwah, NJ; Rogoff, B. (2003). The cultural nature of human development. Oxford University Press, Oxford), our understanding about precisely how they emerge and how they are taught and learned remains preliminary at best. Additionally, much of our understanding is strictly limited to spoken language. The analysis and arguments herein detail the consequentiality of child directed interaction strategies (CDIS) which facilitate non-verbal actions and motivate episodic retrospection, making a tangible link between the current interaction and past experiences. Through a multimodal interaction analysis (Author and Pirini, J. (2020). Multimodal (Inter)action Analysis. In McKinley, J. and Rose, H. (Eds.) The Routledge handbook of research methods in applied linguistics. Rouledge, London, pp. 488–499; Norris, S. (2004). Analyzing multimodal interaction: a methodological framework. Routledge, London.; Norris, S. (2011). Identity in (inter)action: introducing Multimodal (Inter)action Analysis. de Gruyter Mouton, Berlin & New York.; Norris, S. (2019). Systematically working with multimodal data: research methods in multimodal discourse analysis. Wiley Blackwell, Hoboken, NJ; Pirini, J. (2014). Introduction to Multimodal (Inter)action Analysis. In: Norris, S. and Maier, C. (Eds.). Interactions, texts and images: a reader in multimodality. Mouton de Gruyter, New York. of the practice of showing material objects during interaction, I show that non-verbal action, material culture and the physical world are crucial to developing a certain socio-cognitive pragmatic aptitude. CDIS motivating ‘showing’ of tangible objects of personal significance may be the non-verbal antecedent of selecting and introducing new topics during interaction. These CDIS defer interactional agency and motivate non-verbal communicative actions more comfortably within the zone of proximal development. Importantly, the materiality of the objects themselves are of fleeting interactional priority. Instead, the objects provide a bridge between materiality in the here-and-now to past experiences in the there-and-then. Facilitating non-verbal actions of showing help motivate explorations of episodic memory by creating a tangible and immediate link within the unfolding interaction.

Report this publication


Seen <100 times