Here and there: understanding communication about space

Kate Mesh, Lund University Humanities Lab

A team of researchers at Lund University, CIESAS Mexico City and one indigenous Chatino community of Mexico are working together to study how people communicate when giving directions in outdoor spaces. In this talk we introduce our research team and describe a study we performed by hiking through the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico with speakers of Eastern Chatino, and asking those speakers to give directions to important places along the trail and beyond. We show how words with meanings like 'here' and 'there' give different information from pointing gestures, and how they are organized to work together with pointing. This talk further exemplifies how linguists today document languages for the future.

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