Communicative Functions of Eye Closing Behaviours

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Abstract

This work presents a typology of eye closing behaviours based on a semantic taxonomy of communicative signals. The types of eye closing we investigate are blinks, eye-closures and winks performed during political debates. While other studies in the literature attempt to classify blinks and eyeclosures according to their duration or (in)completeness of the closure, our study aims to distinguish between communicative and non communicative types of eye closing, and among the former category, between different meanings possibly conveyed by closing one’s eyes. We argue that while winks are always communicative, i.e. they bear a meaning, blinks and eye-closures may have a communicative value too. To analyse eye closing types both an observational and a Speaker’s judgement approach are adopted, and the items of eye closings exemplified are classified on the basis of a semantic taxonomy that distinguish signals as to their conveying information on the World, on the Senders mind or on the Sender’s Identity.