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URPP Language and Space

Symposium on Multimodal Im/politeness: Gesture, Sign and Spatial Configurations

Update 28.07.2020

Due to the continuing uncertainties and travel restrictions in connection with the corona situation, the symposium will take place in an online format on Zoom. Access details will be emailed to all registered participants shortly before the conference.

October 23, 2020
Organized by Iris Hübscher and Andreas H. Jucker

Symposium description and call for papers

The URPP Language and Space of the University of Zurich is pleased to announce the Symposium on Multimodal Im/politeness: Gesture, Sign and Spatial Configurations.

In face-to-face interaction communication is intrinsically multimodal. While im/politeness for many years has been studied in a unilinear fashion, recent years have seen the emergence of a vibrant interest in multimodal components of im/politeness, such as prosody, gesture and bodily signals and also non-manual features in sign language. The goal of this symposium is to bring together researchers whose work focuses on multimodal aspects of im/politeness and who work in the areas of pragmatics in general, pragmatic development, gesture and multimodality, sign language, social psychology, language and space, and language and cognition. It will be an opportunity to share the latest research on multimodal aspects of im/politeness and to advance new insights in the field of im/politeness studies.
This symposium welcomes submissions related to:

  1. Gesture and bodily signals and im/politeness
  2. Acoustics, prosody and im/politeness
  3. Sign language and im/politeness
  4. Language acquisition and multimodal im/politeness
  5. Language, space and multimodal im/politeness

Especially welcome are contributions concerning usually more marginalized groups in im/politeness research such as young and old people, as well as non-WEIRD populations in order to gain a more diverse understanding of im/politeness-related behaviors in interaction.

Talks will be 20 minutes plus 10 minutes for questions and discussion. There will also be a poster session.

Plenary speakers

  • Lucien Brown, Senior Lecturer, Korean Studies, Monash University
  • Rachel Mapson, Lecturer in BSL/ English Interpreting, Queen Margret University
  • Takaaki Shochi, Associate Professor, CLLE UMR 5263 & LABRI UMR 5800 CNRS

Program outline (all times CEST)

09.00 Opening  
09.15 Plenary 1 Lucien Brown: (Im)politeness and Gesture
09.55 3 Presentations

Farbod Farahandouz and Shima Moallemi: Multimodal manifestation of « ta’ârof » in Persian

Hyunji Kim: Multimodality and politeness in Korean

Eva Ogiermann: Politeness, indirectness and multimodality

11.10 Coffee break  
11.30 3 Presentations

Ester Iyanga-Mambo: Affective communication in live
chat agents as multimodal mitigation for satisfactory
customer-agent conversations

Chantal Claudel: Multimodality and subtitles or
(im)politeness in Japanese films with French subtitles

Andreas H. Jucker: “He offered an apologetic smile.”
Nonverbal speech acts and politeness in fiction

12.45 Lunch break  

Plenary 2

interpreted into international sign language

Rachel Mapson: Exploring cross-cultural affinities in
the expression of im/politeness in signed and spoken
language modalities

3 Presentations

interpreted into international sign language

Penny Boyes Braem, Katja Tissi and Donna Jo Napoli:
In Your Face: Taboos signs and Politeness in Sign

Berta Moya-Avilés: Politeness in Catalan Sign
Language (LSC): Attenuation in LSC discourse

Susanne Mohr and Katrin Renkwitz: Multimodal
politeness in Ireland: A cross-linguistic comparison of
Irish Sign Language and Irish English

15.55 Coffee break  
16.10 2 Presentations

Omnia Ibrahim, Iris Hübscher and Elisa Pellegrino:
Vocal accommodation strategies in conflicting
situations: The effect of interpersonal power relationship

Adrian Leemann, Carina Steiner, Péter Jeszenszky,
Melanie Studerus, Jan Messerli: Quantitative
approaches to linguistic politeness in German-speaking Switzerland: preliminary findings on pronominal address

17.00 Plenary 3 Takaaki Sochi: Acquisition of multimodal politeness
expressions in Japanese
17.40 Final discussion  
18.00 End  


Important dates

  • April 10, 2020: Deadline for abstracts
  • April 30, 2020: Notification about acceptance
  • October 23, 2020: Date of the symposium


The workshop is open and free of charge. Please send abstracts of max. 300 words (excluding references), no later than April 10, 2020, to:

Participation without giving a paper will also be possible, but please register by sending an email to the email addresses above.

Further information

Contact persons: Iris Hübscher, Andreas H. Jucker,

Weiterführende Informationen