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Seminar I Bilinguals and Non-Verbal Communication: Issues of Language Dominance and Movement Classification

Seminars / Lectures / Workshops

  • Date

    26 Jun 2024

  • Organiser

    Department of English and Communication

  • Time

    17:00 - 18:00

  • Venue

    Online via Zoom  


Klaudia Karkowska


This event is jointly organised with the International Society for Gestures Studies - Hong Kong


Over the years, studies concerning the use of gestures in bilinguals have frequently overlooked the complex issue of language dominance by concentrating primarily on proficiency assessment. This talk seeks to address this gap by presenting a revised definition of language dominance. Apart from that, I will discuss findings from two ongoing studies. The first study, "Decoding Adaptors: A Cognitive Linguistic Approach to Self-Touching Behaviours," investigates the cognitive and linguistic underpinnings of self-touching behaviours. The second study, "Late Bilinguals and Non-Present Object Discourse: An Interdisciplinary Investigation of Gestures, Object Presence, Language Dominance, and Physiological Correlates," explores the interplay between gestures, object presence, language dominance, and physiological responses in late bilinguals. These studies are supervised by Dr Renia Lopez (PolyU) and Prof. Przemysław Żywiczyński (NCU). Twenty late bilinguals, proficient in both Polish and English, participated in a study exploring cognitive processes related to describing non-present objects, with a particular focus on the role of gestures and adaptors. The study comprises two groups: one discussing objects with a physical object present and the other without. The order of languages was randomized for each subject. The procedure involves language proficiency and temperament assessments, baseline heart rate measurement, and physiological sigh exercises to establish baselines. Participants undertook a 3.5-minute descriptive task in their dominant language (L1), with or without a physical object, where they were asked to describe an object in such a manner that if the video of their description was played to another person, that person could accurately identify the described object. The NASA-TLX assessment will measure workload. After resetting physiological states, participants will engage in a parallel task in their non-dominant language (L2), followed by a NASA-TLX assessment and the Test of Language Dominance (TOLD). I will primarily focus on the functions of gestures and adaptors, aiming to elucidate their roles in the narrative task of describing a physical object compared to the same object displayed on a screen.

Keynote Speaker

Klaudia Karkowska

Klaudia Karkowska

CLES, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland

Klaudia Karkowska has been a member of the Centre for Language Evolution Studies at Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń since 2021. Her primary research interest lies in understanding how language dominance influences non-verbal communication, with a specific focus on gestures and adaptors as structured phenomena. Over the past three years, she has actively participated in several research projects that explore various facets of non-verbal communication, including pantomime, metaphor, storytelling, and gesture use. Currently, she works as an assistant on several projects, including "Protohistories: Features of Stories 'Told' Before the Emergence of a Fully Developed Language" and "Environmental Impact on the Evolution of Communication: Testing the Linguistic Niche Hypothesis".  Her recent publication is "Gesture and Bilingualism: Evidence from Polish-English Preschoolers. A Pilot Study Report."

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