, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 1-13,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 30 Oct 2009

The midwife case: Do they “walk the talk”?


Expertise depends on hours and hours of practice within a field before a state of proficiency is achieved. Normally, expert skills involve bodily knowledge associated to the practices of a field. Interactional expertise, i.e. the ability to talk competently about the field, however, is not causally dependent on bodily proficiency. Instead, interactional experts are verbally skilled to an extent that makes them impossible to distinguish from so-called contributory experts, the experienced practitioners. The concept of interactional expertise defines linguistic skills as contingent on bodily knowledge. However, recent neuropsychological findings make it plausible that “first-person”-related neural activations would be relevant with respect to the subjects' verbal output, at least when subjects address concepts that refer to tangible objects. Using imitation games, we explore and expand on the apparently arbitrary relation between bodily experiences and linguistic skills in midwifery. In alignment with several findings within grounded cognition studies, the results presented suggest that somehow personal experiences make a linguistic difference, noticeable to contributory experts.