Drawing on the author’s experience as a sociolinguist and a mountain climber, this book shows how the expertise and affect-laden experience of Japanese rock climbers can be illuminated through linguistic methods and theories. Through a detailed investigation of multimodal interaction among climbers, the book explores a number of significant sociolinguistic and linguistic anthropological themes, including spatial frames of reference, intersubjectivity, chronotopic configurations, and poetic formations of talk. In doing so, it presents climbing as a condensed locus of human interactions in which the integrated analysis of semiotic processes brings to light a new set of relationships between humans and their surroundings. Grounded in an extended and focused participation in rock climbing activities and interviews with other climbers, Kuniyoshi Kataoka examines the assemblage of semiotic resources including the language, the body, and the space mediated by their climbing equipment and the surrounding environment. The result is a showcase of interdisciplinary multimodal approaches to climbing discourse analysis in and around the gravity-sensitive zone, ranging from expert climbers’ instruction to novices, gossip and narratives on near-death experiences, to a multi-participant discussion of a critical accident. As well as demonstrating how language reflects extraordinary experiences on the vertical plane, the findings also offer a chance to learn more about climbing, which is attracting a growing number of participants and competitors worldwide.
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