Society for Linguistic Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
This is a presentation on processes ‘at the lower limit’ of communication (Andrén 2010), taking place in the ‘manipulatory area’ (Mead 1938), the ‘world within reach’ (Schutz & Luckmann 1973). It investigates how practical actions become modified so as to display their own situated logic and significance and to make the setting that they modify transparent. The frequency with which ‘environmentally coupled gestures’ (Goodwin 2007) occur in the communication of professionals such as physicians, car mechanics, carpenters, and architects attest show how important they are in the development of communally shared understandings of the world, while their habitualization and trans-contextual generalization within communities of practice reveals patterns of ritualization and formalization not unlike the grammaticalization processes that have been found to govern the evolution of spoken languages.