A multimodal cognitive approach to aid the conceptualization of Spanish utterances with 'se'

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Most native speakers of Spanish are intuitively able to construct correct structures with the marker 'se'. On the other hand, non-native speakers, even those at advanced proficiency levels, have difficulties producing most constructions with 'se'. This is hardly surprising as the marker 'se', one of the most common words in Spanish, can convey highly pragmatic nuances with a variety of functions that are still much debated among linguists. This study analyses some of the most used functions of the marker in the oral production of 18 Peninsular Spanish speakers from a multimodal Cognitive Grammar approach, identifying how gestures might be employed by speakers to create or clarify meaning. Our results confirm that gestures are used differently depending on the function of the marker. Middle voices where 'se' marks high levels of subject involvement and/or energy co-occur with related gestures, while middle voices or impersonal structures, where the involvement and/or energy is low, co-occur more often with unrelated gestures, if any.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)677-710
Number of pages34
JournalCognitive Linguistics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020


  • cognitive grammar
  • gesture
  • se

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language

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