When we speak we have so many ways of making ourselves understood. As a cognitive linguist I look at natural discourse – including speech and body movement – to explore the resources we recruit to make meaning and how these processes relate to how we think.

I look at this from the perspective of specific expressions in speech – like grammatical verb marking, lexical/semantic choices, and idiomatic expressions. Amazingly, these correlatew with very specific body movements, including gestures, head movements, shrugs, etc. I’m especially interested in how these streams together express abstract conceptual notions – like event structure, stance, and negation.¬†I work with multimodal corpus data, text¬†corpora, 3D motion capture data, and experimental methods.

I’m very interested in applying this knowledge of human behaviour and communication in natural discourse to technical and social problems, including improving environments such as human interaction with avatars, the procedural generation of dialogue in video games, and applications in clinical situations. To this end I’ve worked in automated gesture recognition in collaboration with partners at the RWTH Aachen University, and am currently exploring other collaborations in this direction.

You can see research output here: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jennifer_Hinnell .


I was honoured to be selected a Killam Laureate at the University of Alberta in 2018.


Dr. Sally Rice | Department of Linguistics | U. of Alberta

Prof. Dr. Irene Mittelberg | Natural Media Lab | RWTH Aachen University

Dr. Mark Turner, Case Western University & Dr. Francis Steen, UCLA | Red Hen Lab