Eve Sweetser, Professor

Closed (1) Co-speech gestures accompanying use of conditionals and modals

Applications for Spring 2019 are now closed for this project.

It has long been known that co-speech gesture reveals aspects of on-line cognition which may not be revealed in speech itself. This project investigates the usage of gestures accompanying modals (e.g. CAN, MUST, MAY, SHOULD) and conditionals (IF-clauses), to see what understandings of modality and conditional relationships are reflected in gesture. For example, we hypothesize that speakers may gesturally indicate creation of imaginary "spaces" (see Fauconnier's Mental Spaces theory) as they use conditionals; and they may gesturally reflect their models of coercion, permission and possibility in their gestures accompanying modal verbs. Sweetser and others have developed such semantic models - which can now be examined in the light of new data.

Mark Turner and Francis Steen have given us access, via their Red Hen database, to a very large corpus of captioned television data. Since it is captioned, it is searchable by linguistic forms (e.g. IF, MUST) - it is very hard to search video data directly. It has thus been possible to locate large numbers of examples of these common words, and examine gestural patterns accompanying them.

Initial results, on 400 examples of English IF-conditionals from talk-show date, were presented at the International Cognitive Linguistics Conference in July 2015, and further results in 2017 at the International Multimodal Communication Conference - the basic hypotheses of the project are being confirmed. The next phase involves both gathering more data, and refining analyses of the gesture structures in the date currently being examined.

The research apprentice will use Red Hen's search capabilities to locate examples in this corpus, and assist in developing a database and in doing data-analysis. This apprentice can in the process learn a great deal about lexical and constructional semantics and about analysis of co-speech gesture.

Qualifications: Must have basic web-usage and searching experience - and at least basic spread-sheet skills. Also should have taken at least one cognitive linguistics class. UNIX experience would be a plus. Command of Spanish or Russian would also be a plus, since Red Hen has data in these languages too - but we will be focusing on the English data.
Related website: http://linguistics.berkeley.edu/~sweetser/

Closed (2) Integrated metaphor description project - metaphors for cancer and cancer treatment.

Applications for Spring 2019 are now closed for this project.

MetaNet is a multicampus interdiscilinarly project on crosscultural comparison of metaphors for government, economics and social issues. The MetaNet analysis team has a history of involving interested undergraduate researchers. Its task is building a wiki database of inter-related metaphors, and a system for metaphor identification in text.
The most recent direction of this project is work on discourse about cancer - both by medical professionals and by patients. This work is being undertaken together with Oana David at UC-Merced.

Analysis of texts, identification of metaphors, and assistance in building the wiki database of metaphors. In the past, students doing this work have helped the project make progress, and learned a lot more about the nitty-gritty of metaphor analysis. Some of our undergraduate assistants have as a result produced professional research papers and presented them at conferences.

Qualifications: Must have taken Linguistics 106 and/or 105 (or some other cognitive linguistics class involving work on metaphor) and done well. It would be an added plus if the candidate had programming expertise, and/or competence in Spanish.