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Language, Heart, and Mind

Studies at the intersection of emotion and cognition

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Edited By Barbara Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk, Valeria Monello and Marco Venuti

A major premise of this book is that language use is critically conditioned by affective content and cognitive factors rather than being a case of objective computation and manipulation of structures. The 21 chapters of this book deals with how language interacts with emotion, and with mind and cognition, from both intralingual and cross-linguistic perspectives. The second major focus is the theoretical framework, best-suited for research relationships between language, cognition, and emotion as well as the effect that emotion has on the conceptualizer who constructs meanings based on language stimuli. Furthermore, the authors investigate how emotion and rational projections of events interact and what their consequences are in the conceptual world, media discourse, and translation.

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12. Beyond Emotions (and Back): Non-verbal Communication in Language and Interaction (Emanuela Campisi)

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Emanuela Campisi

Abstract It is usually assumed that, unlike spoken language, non-verbal communication expresses imagistic meaning and, therefore, it has the sole function to convey emotions (Watzlawick et al. 1967). On the contrary, hand gestures seem not to be suitable to express emotions: instead, they contribute to the content of the message (Argyle, 1975). This dichotomy, still affected by the classic distinction between higher cognitive functions and perceptual-emotional states, fails to explain the complexity of language use, where every communicative move is embedded in a never neutral chain of goals and relationship; instead, an integrated view on language as a multimodal system is in need, in which every speech act is described at many levels, including the degree in which it vehicles emotions.

Keywords: Nonverbal communication, Gesture, Emotions, Imagery, Minimal discourse units

In the academic milieu of 1970s psychology, it was a common claim that, unlike spoken language, the primary function of non-verbal communication (henceforth NVC) is to convey emotional states and unconscious thoughts. According to Watzlawick et al. (1967), for instance, whereas verbal communication provides information about the content of the message, NVC concerns the relationship among participants in interaction, for example providing information about their level of engagement or distress and their feelings towards the others. The reason behind this distinction relies in the different ways in which the two forms of communication were thought to represent meanings: digitally (propositionally, arbitrarily and conventionally) for verbal communication, and analogically (iconically, globally and idiosyncratically)...

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