Embodiment, Semantics and Social Action: The Case of Object-Transfer in L2 Classroom Interaction

S. W. Eskildsen
Frontiers in Communication, 2021-09-28


Using conversation analysis and usage-based linguistics, I focus on a beginning L2 user in an ESL classroom and trace his use of a “family of expressions” which, from the perspective of linguistic theory, are instantiations of either the ditransitive dative construction (e.g., “he told me the story”) or a prepositional dative construction (e.g., “he told the story to me”). The semantics of both constructions denotes transfer of an object, physically or metaphorically, from one agent to another. Therefore, I investigate them as one type of object-transfer construction. The instances of the construction are found predominantly in instruction sequences, and I show how the L2 user co-employs talk and recycled embodied work that elaborates the deictic references of the talk and the relation of agent-object-recipient roles among them. Through my analyses, I will showcase the embodied nature of linguistic categorization (Langacker, 1987) but take the argument further and suggest that the semiotic resource known as “language” is a residual of embodied social sense-making practices (aus der Wieschen and Eskildsen, 2019). The study draws on the MAELC database at Portland State University, a longitudinal audio-visual corpus of American English L2 classroom interaction.
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