Multimodality of communication in children:
gestures, emotions, language and cognition

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Welcome to the “Multimod 2009” international conference

The Multimod 2009 conference is being organized jointly by psychologists and linguists from the Universities of Toulouse (Toulouse II) and Grenoble (Grenoble III). The conference venue, however, will be the campus of the University of Toulouse II.

Toulouse, University of Toulouse II, Thursday 9th July to Saturday 11th July, 2009

The aim of this international conference will be to assess research on theories, concepts and methods relating to multimodality in children. For many years, scholars interested in language acquisition totally neglected the nonverbal modalities of communication, going so far as to consider that children move directly from gestural communication to language –the title, moreover, of several books. Since the groundbreaking studies of adults conducted by McNeill (1992) and Kendon (2004), communication is now widely acknowledged to be a multimodal phenomenon, although children begin interacting with adults gesturally and using emotional facial expressions. As they grow up, children increase their repertoire of communicative modalities (coverbal gestures, gestures which can be used as a substitute for speech, etc.), which they may or may not combine with speech. While the early stages of this process are now quite well understood (through research carried out in Italy by Capirci & Volterra; see also Guidetti, 2003), we still lack the data needed to appreciate the full complexity of multimodal communication in older children, especially ones of school age. The aim of this international conference will therefore be to take stock of all these issues, looking at both the typical and atypical aspects of the development of communication, from a cross-cultural but also a cross-linguistic perspective.
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