University of Oulu

Siitonen P, Rauniomaa M and Keisanen T (2021) Language and the Moving Body: Directive Actions With the Finnish kato “look” in Nature-Related Activities. Front. Psychol. 12:661784. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.661784

Language and the moving body : directive actions with the Finnish kato “look” in nature-related activities

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Author: Siitonen, Pauliina1; Rauniomaa, Mirka1; Keisanen, Tiina1
Organizations: 1Languages and Literature, Faculty of Humanities, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 7.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Frontiers Media, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-06-10


The article explores how social interaction is accomplished through intertwined verbal and bodily conduct, focusing on directive actions that include a second-person imperative form of the Finnish verb katsoa “to look,” typically kato. The study draws on video recordings of various outdoor activities in nature, mostly from family interaction with small children, and employs interactional linguistics and conversation analysis as its analytic framework. The directive kato actions in focus are produced (1) as noticings, to initiate a new course of action by directing the recipient to look at and possibly talk about a target that the speaker treats as newsworthy; (2) as showings, to initiate an evaluative course of action by directing the recipient to look at and align with the speaker’s stance toward the target; or (3) as prompts, to contribute to an ongoing course of action by directing the recipient to do something relevant to or with the target. Apart from the use of kato, the actions differ in their design. In noticings, the target is typically named verbally and pointed at through embodied means, but the participants remain at some distance from it (e.g., kato muurahaispesä tuossa “look an anthill there”). In showings, the participant producing the action typically approaches the recipient with the target in hand, so that the naming of the target is not necessary but, by evaluating the target themselves, the shower explicates how the target should be seen (e.g., kato kuinka jättejä “look how giant {ones}”). In prompts, neither the target nor the intended action is named, but the target is typically indicated by embodied means, for example, by the participants’ approaching and pointing at it, and the intended action is inferable from the participants’ prior conduct (e.g., kato tuossa “look there” and pointing at a berry in the participants’ vicinity when berry picking has been established as relevant). By examining these three grammar-body assemblages, the article uncovers regularities in the co-occurrence of multiple modalities and contributes to new understandings of language use in its natural ecology – in co-present social interaction.

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Series: Frontiers in psychology
ISSN: 1664-1078
ISSN-E: 1664-1078
ISSN-L: 1664-1078
Volume: 12
Article number: 661784
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.661784
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 6121 Languages
Funding: This study was supported by the Academy of Finland (decision number 285393), the Finnish Cultural Foundation, North Ostrobothnia Regional Fund, and the Finnish Work Environment Fund (decision number 200226).
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 285393
Detailed Information: 285393 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2021 Siitonen, Rauniomaa and Keisanen. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.