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Sotirios Bekakos PhD Student Aristotelian University - Thessaloniki

Linguistics meets dance: Freestyle

dance as a language code

Presented at: a) the
37th International
Congress on Dance
Research CID
b) the 35th Annual
Meeting of the
Department of
Aristotelian University
of Thessaloniki
GREECE May 2014
Tel. +302155158495

A Comparative
study on the
language and

Through the study of dance, as a dance student, I realized that dance is a kind of
human language, which is related with linguistic and anthropological elements.
In this paper, the following dances are studied:
1. Oriental dance
2. Freestyle - Street dance
The above mentioned dances are characterized by a freedom of movements.
Through these movements, the dancer is able to express verbal and non verbal
In this paper, the origin of the Oriental and Freestyle dance is also presented.
This excursus points to the illustration of the dance terms, their etymology and
significance that demonstrate the relationship between language and dance.
Except from the presentation of Oriental and Freestyle dance, in this work the
etymology of the terms and dance is also discussed.
Method. The research of the relationship between and dance is carried out
with the use of the philological method, the etymological method and the use of the
Theory of Language Functions (Jakobson). Also the ethnographic method is used for
the presentation of the history of the Oriental dance.
I was asking myself for a long time, if there is a relationship between language and
dance. Before the research, I formulated the following questions.
Is it possible to study the relationship between language and dance? Is dance a form
of language with its own rules? Which is the character of language and dance and
how can influence the peoples character through time? Can linguistics be a useful
instrument for dance research?
Language Dance - Communication: is the triad that forms the sense of civilization
and a peoples character. Through language man can express his actions and his ideas,
forming attitudes, beliefs and standards, while through dance expresses feelings, ideas and
metaphors, improving in this way soul and body.

Dance is a text in motion, a ritual. Collective memory, customs and traditions,

history and national identity characterize dance history.

Language and Dance: one relationship many aspects

Language and dance constitute the basic elements of the human civilization.
All ancient civilizations attached great importance to the dance as a ritual or artistic kind.
During the prehistoric period, language and dance were used as media of primitive people and
had purely ceremonial - practical character (satisfaction of the basic human needs,

communication with God).

In all ancient civilizations, dance played an important role. In the Middle East, Egypt,
and ancient Greece and in ancient Italy, dancing characterizes every form of social and
religious expression was the representation through shapes and movements of the thoughts
and desires of man. Dance was a complement of linguistic expression which accompanied the
"rituals of transition ' (rites of passage)1. The rituals of transition covered all the

expressions of social life.

Picture 1.
A red figured crater shaped bell (5th cent. b. C.), that illustrates a scene of phlyakes
(gr. , an ancient Greek comedy of the Magna Graecia). From the tomb num.2 of the
settlement of Santa Maria del Casale, near Pisticci Matera province Basilicata region - Italy.
The movements of the dancers look like the movements of the modern dance.

The term rites de passage refers to linguistic and anthropological research, in order to express the
changes of a person during his life, i.e. the transition from a socio - cultural situation to another.
Furthermore, the term may indicate changes associated with the cycle of life and changes in social roles
(e.g. the passage from high school to university, graduating from university, doctorate and others).
This phenomenon is of great importance for the individual himself, for the relationship between the
individual and the social group but also for the cohesion of the social group. Arnold Van Gennep (1873
1957) a French linguist and anthropologist, introduced for the first time the term rite de passage in
linguistics and anthropology.
Cf. Van Gennep, A. 1909. Les rites de passage: tude systematique. Paris, E. Nourry.

According to linguistics and anthropology, dance is communicative medium.

Dance constitutes a channel of communication of messages, of ideas, of myths, of
feelings and of historical events.
Every people have its own dances that constitute a kind of sociolect (a dialect that
defines a social stratum). In every dance there are codified structures that can be
interpreted through the procedure of codification. Codification is necessary for the
comprehension of dance structures, called patterns. People that watch a dance
performance can use the decodification procedure, in order to analyze and understand
the sequence of dance movements. Every sequence of rhythmic dance movements are
called patterns2 and are organized as a system.
Patterns are formed by a sequence of steps and movements that create different
shapes, either on air, either on the floor (Jones, 2013: 18).
Many groups of steps and movements form the routine3 (Jones, 2013: 18).

Cf. ncyclopedia Britannica: root and pattern system, in linguistics, one of several methods for creating the
stems, or most elementary forms, of words. The root and pattern system is found in the Afro-Asiatic language
phylum, and particularly in the Semitic branch of the phylum. The root is a set of consonants arranged in a specific
sequence; it identifies the general realm of the words meaning. Additional information, such as part of speech and
tense, is reflected in the stems vocalic (vowel) and syllabic features, called the pattern.
A given set of stems may thus be distinguished by either the pattern or the root. In the first case the stems have a
common root and thus share a common semantic field, as with the English verbs write, wrote, and written. These
three verbs share the root wr-t(t)- (parenthetical letters reflect an optional feature) and are differentiated by the
patterns -i-, -o-, -i-en, which indicate tense. Alternatively, these patterns could be combined with a different root,
such as r-s-, for rise, rose, and risen; the tenses parallel those in the first case, but the semantic field of the series
has changed.
[pt-tern] n.m. invar. 1. schema che rappresenta un modello di riferimento.
2. (inform.) modello che definisce la disposizione di caratteri di una stringa
3. (mus.) giro armonico o melodico dato da un numero di battute (che varia a seconda del genere e dello stile
musicale) che si ripetono
Etimologia: voce ingl.; propr. modello, tipo. cf. also Rastall (2006: 30 31): Saussure, by contrast,
concentrates so much on the semiological patterning implied by acts of speaking that his view of language as
pattern is reified (not merely speech considered for the purposes of analysis). He claims to have defined "des
choses et non des mots" (1972, 31) and says,
"[la langue] est un objet bien dfini dans lensemble htroclite des faits du langage. On peut la localiser dans la
portion dtermine du circuit o une image auditive vient sassocier un concept...
"La langue, distincte de la parole, est un objet quon peut tudier sparment."
In order to consider la langue as an object in this way, Saussure is clearly both arresting the forms of the semiotic
system and hypostatizing the patterns of the semiotic system set up by the linguist in what Popper would call
World 3 of scientific theories and discussions.
Now, Saussures language as pattern can be taken either as the reality he says it is or as an explanatory construct.
One does not have to be ontologically committed to the actual existence of such a platonic world of forms. Clearly,
we can suppose there is a systematic organization and regulation of experience in such a way that communication
is not random or chaotic, but we do not have to accept that this organization exists in the particular form of our
explanatory constructs or be ontologically committed to the real-world existence of entities corresponding to
explanatory constructs despite the tendency of some neurolinguistic theories in this direction (see below).
cf.OED. s.v. routine roo t n A sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program.
Computing. A sequence of instructions for performing a task that forms a program or a distinct part of one.
rigin. late 17th century (denoting a regular course or procedure): from French, from route 'road'
A set sequence in a performance such as a dance or comedy act: he was trying to persuade her to have a tap
routine in the play

The study of the language in relation to the dance is part of the theory of
communication and can be can be defined according to the following pair4:
1. Language Work

2. Dance nergy

3 Language + Dance = Work + nergy

Formula - [Lang + Da = W + En]5

cf. Rastall (2006: 23 28) Hjelmslev [23] Louis Hjelmslev, 1968, Prolgomnes une thorie... [23] points out,
this analytical orientation towards the means of communication, as opposed to the content, is difficult because "le
langage veut tre ignor. Cest sa destination naturelle dtre un moyen et non un but". This analysis of language as
communication leads us to language as pattern. It is the sense of "language as pattern" in Blacks Labyrinth of
Language [24] Max Black, 1968, The Labyrinth of Language, Harmondsworth,... [24] and is familiar to
It is easy to see that different researchers might devote their attention to one or other of these phases of the
linguistic process. "Language" can be seen in
the communicative event;
the rational analysis of the communicational event, and
the rational analysis of the content (or indeed the logical form) of the frozen communicational event.
The differences between viewing language as communication, pattern, or as information may lie at the root of
different conceptions not only of what language "is" but also of how one should go about accounting for it. This is,
of course, not "merely terminological". It is a matter of ones point of view and, as Saussure [25] Ferdinand de
Saussure, 1972, Cours de linguistique... [25] wisely observed, "cest le point de vue qui cre lobjet". When we
consider the expressions "language as communication", "language as pattern" and "language as information", we
can see, as a result of the changing objects of study, a shift in the meaning of "language".
Saussure and most linguists since have been concerned with language as pattern. By contrast, when von Humboldt
[26] Wilhelm von Humboldt, 1876, ber die Verschiedenheit... [26] famously declared that language was not an
ergon but energeia,
die Sprache ist kein Werk (Ergon), sondern eine Ttigkeit... Sie ist nmlich die sich ewig wiederholende Arbeit des
Geistes, den artikulierten Laut zum Ausdruck des Gedankens fhig zu machen.He was obviously thinking of
speech activity and concentrating on the communication event, constantly adapted to changing circumstances, and
was ignoring the sense of "language" as a system of patterns or regularities by means of which each utterance is a
representative of a system and not simply the product of chaotic processes. He was thinking about language as
(instances of) communication rather than language as pattern or language as information. That is, he was thinking
of speech and not language (system). This has been observed since at least the time of Delbrck [27] Bertold
Delbrck, 1904, Einfhrung in das Studium... [27] (1904, 40 ff). Von Humboldt [28] Von Humboldt, ber die
Verschiedenheit..., p. 123 [28] goes on to say,
Man kann den Wortvorrat einer Sprache auf keine Weise als eine fertig daliegende Masse ansehen. Er ist, solange
die Sprache im Munde des Volkes lebt, ein fortwhrendes Erzeugnis des wortbildenden Vermgens...
Analysis of the formula: Lang (Language) + Dan (Dance) = W (Work) + En (Energy).
Language is work, that is to say the production of the writing or the oral discourse, that can be transformed into
energy (dance).

Language and dance: approaches and theories

To highlight the relationship between language - dance, the following methodological
approaches can be used:

the philological method

the etymological method
the theory of Minsky
Dell Hymes theory - The Theory of Anthropological Competence
Jakobsons theory of language functions communication theory

The philological method is used for the collection (lat. collatio) and study
linguistic and historical elements, that are mentioned in dance (lat. recensio).
This combines literary criticism, history and linguistics. With the help of this
method it is possible to record the written sources that include testimonies about
dance history6.

Contini, s.v. Filologia (Enc. Ital. 1977), declares that philology is a reconstruction of a past :
Per un lato essa ricostruzione o costruzione di un passato' e sancisce, anzi introduce, una distanza fra
l'osservatore e l'oggetto; per altro verso, conforme alla sentenza crociana che ogni storia sia storia contemporanea,
essa ripropone o propone la presenza' dell'oggetto. La filologia moderna vive, non di necessit inconsciamente,
questo problematismo esistenziale.
The term dance history is part of a discipline, called dance studies.
For a complete presentation of the history of the term, cf. Adshead Lansdale, J., Layson, J. (1994: 1 5).
Adshead Lansdale and Layson (1994: 5) give a scientific definition of the term Dance Studies:
Dance history as a body of knowledge and the study of dance history as a scholarly activity constitute in some
respects a hybrid discipline [] A convenient way of characterizing dance history as a body of knowledge and as
a disciplined activity is by means of a three dimensional model. Here it is used to explore different modes of
engaging in dance history []
The research on the history of dance includes three dimensions:
1. Dance through time
2. Dance types
3. Dance contexts (Adshead Lansdale, Layson, 1994: 5 10)

Etymology is useful for a detailed analysis of all these terms that are related to dance
(i.e. dance terms, steps names, names of dance movements).
According to Giannakis (, 2011: 79):
, ,
, ,
. ,
(. . , , ).

. ,
, .
, ,
, . ,

Therefore, the study of the history of words, which is the etymology, is part of the
sociocultural study of language. This study includes the use of semantics,
sociolinguistics and anthropological linguistics.

Frame Minskys Theory

The term frame proposed by Minsky (1975) for representing knowledge and now used by
scientists in artificial intelligence and automatic processing of natural language.
Minsky formed this methodology using the following terms:

1. slot
2. facets
3. default
4. instructions demons
According to Minsky, structures represent the concepts, so they are often used in
linguistics to represent the importance of the word. However, the structures may be
used for the representation of historical events, individual events and movements.
Table 1. Frame Dance


The slot Dance has three facets: Humans, Energy, and Movements

Minsky believes that with the facets it is possible to determine a range of potential
values and the value of default. Default is the value parameter assumes a typical
example that represents this concept.
e. g. (dance of the ancient Greek comedy - default)
The term frame contains even extend the concept of dance (conceptual extension).
Therefore, the kordax (dance) in the ancient Greek language includes a set of
knowledge (engl. instructions), theoretical or practical (movements, steps, stories,
legends and references to emotions, etc.) that determine the value of the parameters or


The Theory of Anthropological Competence (Dell Hymes theory)

Anthropology, unlike linguistics, believes that the rules of the language are not
sufficient for the creation of articulate speech, but the context, in which it lives and
acts the man who speaks a language.
The linguistic - cultural diversity is a result of the historical process, and a man
develops through time and space.
To composed forms the basis for the study of dance with the help of pragmatics and
The term 'context' is a term coined and linguistics from Bloomfield (1933) (< lat.
contextus)7. Contest indicates the environment where the individuals that speak one
language live and operate.
Linguistic and cultural differentiation is the result of a historic procedure, since man
is evolving through space and time.
The context forms the basis for the study of dance, supported by pragmatics and
According to Bloomfield, the context comprises all these elements that constitute the
real linguistic frame and the communicative situation. These data allow us to interpret
the various proposals.

For Bambiniotis (, 2002: 1672), the Greek term

constitutes the rendering of the engl. Context < med. lat.contextus
(gr. engl. assembled structure).
The term context comprises intra linguistic and extra linguistic factors which
shape a wider context (facts, statements, information, etc.). In this context a piece of
information is placed. Thus it is easier to understand the factual environment, the

Pragmatics is the area of linguistics, which explores the ways in which they contribute to the contextual meanings.
This term includes the theory of linguistic acts, the theory of conversational implicature (Grice, 1975), the theory
of politeness and other approaches to language behavior in philosophy, sociology, linguistics and anthropology.
For further details, cf.:
and Grice, P. 1975. Logic and conversation. In: Syntax and Semantics 3: Speech Acts, edit. P. Cole & J. Morgan,
41-58. ew York: Academic Press.
cf. also Sobrero (1993: 403 - 406) La pragmatica una disciplina della linguistica che si occupa dell'uso della
lingua come azione reale e concreta. Non si occupa della lingua intesa come sistema di segni, ma osserva come e
per quali scopi la lingua viene utilizzata e in che misura soddisfi esigenze e scopi comunicativi. Pi nello specifico,
la pragmatica si occupa di come il contesto influisca sull'interpretazione dei significati.
In questo caso, per "contesto" si intende "situazione", cio l'insieme dei fattori extralinguistici (sociale, ambientale
e psicologico) che influenzano gli atti linguistici.


The theory of language functions (Jakobsons theory)

According to Jakobson (1896 - 1982), six are the functions performed by the
language, understood as an act of communication. Of the six constitutive factors of
communication (transmitter, receiver, code, object reference, message, channel), the
referential function focuses on what we mentioned, the reference object, and in this
sense, informs something. Through dance moves refer to concepts such as: o love,
joy, love, sadness, resentment and human suffering.8
The dance is still associated with the poetic function (poetic function).
This function focuses on the message, providing information and giving importance to
the form. The stylistic characteristics contribute to the transmission and the perception
of the message from the public.
For example, in a literary text or an advertisement, the prominent linguistic function is
poetic in the sense that it is dominated by the choice of the form to transmit
information rather than the information itself.
The dancer dances and creates steps, movements, which in turn create forms in the air
or on the ground. These express the meaning of the dance.
The body of the dancer and the dance groups act as transmitters of messages, which
are then decoded by viewers in their own way.
Another element that connects the dance with the inner world of man is the emotional
function (emotive function). This means that the dancer when dancing, take you
through the dance his mental state or his feelings or the feelings of other people.
Dance is also associated with the conative function. This function can be identified in
phrases like: whoa, whoa! Love me! Come on! Come on, get up, dance!
The wording of these phrases in conjunction with the dance movement helps to create
a message on the part of the dancer to one or more viewers. Thus, by these phrases,
the dancer either interacts with the human environment, or attempts to influence the
receivers, i.e. viewers.


For the language functions, cf. :
In the Greek linguistic bibliography there is only one essay on language functions, translated into Greek by A.
Berlis. For the fortune of Jakobson in Greece, cf. Jacobson, R. 1998, ,
, - . , . , . 55-67.
Jakobsons theory on language functions was published for the first time in the U.S.A. in 1960 under the title
"Closing Statements: Linguistics and Poetics" (in Thomas A. Sebeok, Style In Language, Cambridge
Massachusetts, MIT Press, 1960, p. 350377).


Table 2. Dance and its functions

Conative function


Referential function
Emotive function
Poetic function


Table 3. Necessary factors for the performance of the language functions in

relation to the dance

contact with the


dance performance





The nttila method

ccording to Giannakis, there is a way of representing research around
language (, 2005: 263). This mode of representation was invented
by the linguist Anttila (Anttila, 1989: 21) and proposed by Giannakis for the
first time in Greece as a method of rehabilitation of language
(, 2012: 41-42).
The method Anttila may be used for dance research.


Table 4. The Anttila Method


Field research


Relation between
two locations

Means of approaching data or or both of
them as presupposes for C

Terms in English and Greek

Relation between two locations
> Field Research
> Philology
C> Reconstruction
D> Comparison -
Means of approaching data A or B or both of them as an assumption for C



Dance: an etymological approach

For Chantraine (DELG, 1968: 229 - 230):
signifie langue, depuis Homre jusque au grec moderne, la langue tant considre
comme pointue []

Dance is an art form, which belongs to the genre of 'performing arts.

It is the result of the movement of the human body, in accordance with a
predetermined pattern or a improvisation (e.g. freestyle). Any plan or improvisation
called choreography. Dancing since ancient times along with theater and music was
part of the everyday life. Peoples life was also accompanied by music or sound
Dance in popular language and folklore called "folk dance" or "ball" (ital. ballo).
From ancient times until today, the dance is part of a ritual, a liturgy, a prayer and part
of public meetings, for example, modern dance or the dance performed in theatres and
As in all ancient culture, dance played an important role in the Ancient Orient as well as in Egypt; the
documentary evidence for the latter, however, is incomparably better, both in pictures and in texts there was hardly a part of life not involving dance: dances accompanied rites of passage were magic
- apotropaic, ecstatic, worshipful, amusing, entertaining, and even eroticizing (BNP, 4: 2004: 71)

In Greek, (*chor -) indicates the dancing ground and the positive energy
released during the dance performance. Cf. ital. coro, coreuta / engl. carol
(P, 4: 2004: 71)
Beekes also relates to the noun and refers (2009: 1644):
ETYM. may originally have been a choral dance, but the original meaning of cannot be
established with certainty. has been connected together with > , with a verb to seize,
grasp in Skrt.hrati to bring, carry. On the other hand, Lith. ras row, twig, etc. Is phonetically
identical with . Meier Brgger 2002 connected the root of to rejoice, ie. ger which
seems reasonable

Although Beekes makes a detailed etymological approach, on the other side Bambiniotis (, 2002:
1959) s.v. , reports: [. . . , . ., .

. . , , . .
. . . .. *gher ,
. aras , , . . hrati , ]


A typical example of the change that was Latin, regarding the importance of verbs
denoting the meaning of the dance, is the following.
In CL the verb redamptruo indicates the dances the shawls.
Also, in CL salto, expresses the meaning of "orchoumai" (gr. )
During the medieval period, the Roman Catholic Church had banned the dances of the
Greeks and Romans, because they considered a relic of pagan religion and contrary to
the spirit of Christianity. This led to fall into disuse and Latin words.
However, during the Holy Roman Empire, the Roman dances were introduced again
in Europe with other forms of the Germans.
The Germans then invented a new verb, which comes from the Old French, the verb
* dintjan, danser (dance, move forward) to register any kind of dance.
From this verb, a whole group of words derived in all Romance and Germanic
languages and idioms, which express the idea of the popular dance, such as:
ital. danza, danzare, fr. danser, danse, engl. dance, to dance, germ. Tanz. etc., but AG
, and MSG 10.
However, during the Holy Roman Empire, the Roman dances were introduced again
in Europe with other forms of the Germans.
The Germans then invented a new verb, which comes from the Old French verb
* dintjan, the verb danser (dance move forward) to register any kind of dance.
From this verb came in all the Romance and Germanic languages and idioms
conditions: ital. danza, danzare, fr. danser, danse, engl. dance, to dance, germ. Tanz. etc. 11.
The evolution of this term indicates that the German domination reintroduced dance
as a cultural element and recognized its value as an artistic genre, while on the other
hand did not use the terms of Classical Latin and Ancient Greek. In this way, the term
dance lost the sense of . Consequently, Western Europe lost the meaning of
dance, as this was established by the Greeks and Romans.


cf. (2006: 987) redamptruo. , - are, , ( ).

cf. (2006: 1045) salto, - avi, - atum, - are, (. salio), (
), . saltare Cyclopa, . For further details, see also salio (DELL, 2001: 590)
cf. Dauzat (1963: 220) danser fin XIIe s., Loherains (dencier), du francique *dintjan, se mouvoir de ci de l
(nerl. deinzen) ; les danses romaines ayant t proscrites par le christianisme, la danse, sous autres formes, dut
tre rintroduite par les Germains || danse XIIe s., Delb. ; danse de Saint Gui, 1819, Boiste. || danseur 1440, Ch.
d Orlans Devoto (1979), s.v. danzare. franco *dintjan. Il termine italiano danzare invece deriva dal francese
antico danser, da cui il francese odierno danse e l inglese dance; l origine di danser discussa; c chi pensa a
una derivazione dal franco *dintjan (dalla medesima forma deriverebbe il tedesco Tanz con la seconda rotazione
consonantica) e molto probabilmente da un latino *deantiare andare avanti (Battisti Alessio, 1950 57).
cf. Pianigiani (1993), s.v. danzre. prov. cat. sp. e port. dansar; fr. danser; ted. tanzen; [oland. dansen;ngl. to dance,
di provenienza romanza]; [all a.a. tedesco DANSON: got. THINSAN (pass. THANS) tirare, stendere, perch
etimologicamente la voce Danzare denota stendersi in catena, in fila ed simile a tal maniera al ted. Reigen,
Reihen fila: dalla rad. indoeuropea TA, TAN distendere, stirare, che nel scr. TANOMI [= gr.
]stendere, TANTUS filo ecc. (v. Tendere e cfr. Coro).


Language - Dance: verbal and non verbal way of communication

According to de Saussure (2009, 45) language is a system of signs that express ideas,
but for Martinet (1985, 78) language is an instrument of communication, which has a
double articulation and character has primarily voice.
Sapir (1884 - 1939) characterizes the language as merely human, but non-instinctive
method for transmitting ideas, emotions and symbols that produce voluntary12.
This interpretation is the best because it includes elements that are not directly
related to language, i.e. those elements that belong to the realm of human senses.
One of these elements is the dance that is a special kind of language. According to
Hanna (4: 1987), dance is a kind of language, contributing to the non - verbal
However, Plato (Laws 7, 816 A) is the first that defines dance as a kind of imitation
of words using 'forms', i.e. gestures
The feeling of Harmony and Rhythm distinguishes dance from the instinctive
movements, is a special gift of the gods (especially of Apollo and Dionysus)
(Lawler, 1944: 75 80).
In the Laws (2, 653D - E, 672 D, 673D), Plato mentions the view that dance came
from the natural desire of all young creatures to move their body in order to express
their emotions, especially joy. Thus, Plato says in the "Laws", the word "dance" is
derived from the noun "joy" ( < ).
Apart from the verb orchoumai, in ancient Greek the verb morphazo
(use body movements in order to emphasize the importance of words).
The study of the dance phenomenon can also be done, using the Proxemics theory.


cf. Sapir (1921: 8): Language is a purely human and non-instinctive method of communicating ideas, emotions
and desires by means of a system of voluntarily produced symbols.
Ferraris and Marconi (1993: 1010) comment the Sapirs definition of language:
Il linguaggio appare a Sapir come un fatto culturale di estrema complessit, che occorre affrontare con strumenti
diversificati e nuovi di cui essenziale mettere in luce da un lato la natura radicalemente storica, dall altro l
inscindibilit dal pensiero. Approfonditi entrambi questi aspetti, Sapir elabora una prospettiva generale che
spesso interpretata come una forma di relativismo linguistico. Linguaggio e pensiero si determinano
reciprocamente nel senso che, se vero che il primo serve a esprimere il secondo, altrettanto vero che lo
condiziona o, addirittura, contribuisce a formarlo; ogni lingua cela in s una metafisica, una concezione del
mondo, una cultura, che influiscono sul pensiero dei parlanti fornendo loro l apparato concettuale attraverso il
quale essi elaborano culturalmente il reale.


This theory was formulated by E.T. Hall (1963), who coined the term proxemics
(lat. proximus (near) + - emics).
This term refers to the way in which different cultures use space and how they
perceive the distances of space associated with the communication aspect.
In essence, this theory describes the way in which people use a space for important
The spatial analysis is done through the "discrete parts" (movements, gestures, steps).
These phenomena examine the branch of linguistics called Paralinguistics.
According to the Proxemics, dance and every human contact can be analyzed as
follows (Watson, 1974: 328 - 329):
1. Sociofugal Sociopetal axis
2. Distance
3. Senses
4. Touching
5. Eye contact
6. Voice loudness


Charles Morris (Watson, 1974: 328) refers to the semantics and argues that
every point (hence the dance is "points system") may display the following

The sign vehicle

(sign - movement - step )

The Designatum

The Interpreter

Table 5. Sign Movement Step


Dance and non verbal communication

Dancing is social behavior and is a key element of non - verbal communication. Even
in it is possible to identify elements and linguistic communication and social life13.
As Veloudis states (, 2008: 11):
, .

Social life is necessary for knowledge of the environment.

Dance reflects and affects the structures of social organization (i.e. relations between
persons living in groups and the relationships that develop between social groups).
The dancer is possible, for example, to play a specific role in a specific social
situation, and this is due to the fact that the role of the dancer and social position are
determined by society's standards, which shape the behavior of the dancer.
Therefore, the dancer is a performer of unwritten history, the values of a society,
which relies either as a teacher in the classroom, either as a dancer at a social event
with aspects of his personality.
In summary, we would say that the dance is the manifestation of a communicative and
linguistic behavior is characterized Dance 'text on the move (" text in motion ") or"
body language "(Hanna, 1979: 6) (Hilda Kuper, 1968:5 ).
These terms describe the structure of dance while expressing the motives and dance
movements, which reflect various acts.
Linguists (philologists), dance researchers (ethnographers) and dance teachers study,
each for their own reasons, language and dance.
The study of language and dance inevitably involves reference to written or oral
sources, which are useful for knowledge of history and tradition.


Dance is still used to describe methods of non - verbal communication between humans or animals (bee dance,
mating dance), to represent the various movements of inanimate objects with poetic way to describe physical
phenomena in which inanimate beings seem to dancing and the musicians, in addition to musical composition or as
a complement to the song.
For the accented movements in Freestyle dance, cf. Jones (2013: 19): accented movements, movements that are
used to emphasize a particular piece of music, e.g., an explosion or highlight could be used for a strong piece of
music using, for example, a Leap or Box Splits Jump.
For the eight-shaped and circular dance of bees, cf. Veloudis (, 2008: 11).


Dance Value Identity

Dance is a sign system that expresses different values. It is a form of language that is
based on social and linguistic patterns. Dance is characterized by dynamic, beauty and
grace. The expressions in MSG: , express
the dynamic and the beauty of dance movements. Every dancer expresses through its
movements some traces,
, in accordance with the dance knowledge, the sense of rhythm, the ability to
move, the physique and the passion that puts ( - , 2003: 98 99).
This passion is also called in MSG (engl. caress) ( , 2003:
99). Dance is an occasion for entertainment but it is also serious ritual that
characterizes the identity of a population or of a nation.
Oriental dance (fr. danse du ventre /engl. belly dance)14.
The term "belly dance" (MSG. 15 - is a calque a loan word in
MSG in SE is the translation of the French term "danse du ventre", a term invented
during the Victorian era.
This term was coined by the French conquerors of Algeria. This term denoted the
female dancers Ouled Nail of Algeria that used to move rhythmically their belly,
while they were dancing. Belly dancing is a kind of dance that expresses fertility and
love. The dancer is wagging the abdomen and the hips.
The abdomen symbolizes the earth and the hips the power of fertility of the mother
earth (Pratelli, 2014: 4).
Today this dance has incorporated many elements from Freestyle and Hip Hop. This
new dance is called Tribal Fusion Dance (American Tribal Fusion Dance ATS).


For the history of the Oriental dance , cf. Raftis, . 2011. Orientalist Dance. , ,
Bonaventura, W. 1983. Belly dancing, the serpent and the sphinx. London, Virago Press Zuhur, S. 1998.
Images of enchantment: visual and performing arts of the Middle East. Cairo, American University in Cairo,
Coluccia, P., Paffrath, A. and Putz, J.2005. Belly Dancing: The Sensual Art of Energy and Spirit. Rochester, Vt,
Park Street Press van Nieuwkerk, K. 1995. A Trade Like Any Other: Female Singers and Dancers in Egypt.
exas, University of Texas Press.
cf. also Bambiniotis (, 2002: 910): ,


riental dance is divided into (Pratelli, 2014: 1 - 3):

1. Raqs sharqi (Arab.: . engl. oriental dancing) is the kind of dance
that is familiar to all Europeans and Americans. Female and Masculine
dancers use to dance this kind of dance in cafeterias and night clubs all around
the world.
This dance is taught in all the dance schools and dance studios, but also in the
universities and it is an improvised dance.
2. Raqs baladi (Arab.:
. engl. local dance or traditional dance).
This is a traditional kind of dance that pair of women and men use to dance in
all the countries of the Middle East, usually in social events and weddings.
However, in Egypt, the term is used synonymously with the term Raqs sharqi, in
order to declare the belly dance16.


Tribal dance fusion was invented in the U. S. . in the 70s by Jamila Salimpour.
For further information, cf. and Tazz, R. 2000.
The Belly Dance Book: Rediscovering the Oldest Dance. Concord, CA: Backbeat Press.
Tribal Fusion Dance is a hybrid dance. In this dance Freestyle, Hip Hop, Breakdance, Egyptian, Cabaret,
Flamenco and other influences can be found. Tribal Fusion Dance is a method of improvised choreography and
can be used as communicative mean for the dancers. Through Tribal dance fusion dancers express their feelings
and their thoughts. This dance belongs to the category of modern dances and is defined as the most dynamic and
communicative dance in the whole world.


Freestyle dance
Is a version of hip hop. 17 Combines dance patterns, discourse and music.
Freestyle is created by making a rap using modern American songs and improvising
(writing rhymes) to the rhythm of music.
Freestyle is a synonym for Street dance18. Its rhythm is 4/4.
According to Jones (2013: 17), Freestyle is an artistic dance and it is known through
the video clips of the pop songs of the 80s and the 90s.
Freestyle dance is an artistic dance style that takes its roots from coordinating accentuated body movements
together with a number of basic movements and steps incorporating arm, head and hand positions.
This being controlled and developed by teachers taking into account modern trends and modern music, allowing
the individual dancer freedom to express themselves from within these criteria to produce Freestyle dancing.

Moreover, freestyle dance uses repetition, connotation, metaphor, slang (rhetoric figures),
which can be found in poetry in conjunction with the sounds. The sounds are created in an
impromptu manner and accompanied by paralinguistic or extralinguistic elements which
shape data.


cf. Bambiniotis (, 2002: 1953): () {.}

, , ,
. [. < . hip hop, . .]
cf. Jones (2013: 74 ): Street Dance or Hip Hop as it also named is a form of dance that has influenced and
integrated with Freestyle over recent years.
Hip hop is the combination of two separate slang terms: hip, used in African American English as early as
1898, meaning "aware" or "in the know", and hop, for the hopping movement.
Keith "Cowboy" Wiggins, a member of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, has been credited with coining
the term in 1978 while teasing a friend who had just joined the US Army, by scat singing the words
"hip/hop/hip/hop" in a way that mimicked the rhythmic cadence of marching soldiers. Cowboy later worked the
"hip hop" cadence into his stage performance.
The group frequently performed with disco artists who would refer to this new type of music by calling them "hip
hoppers". The name was originally meant as a sign of disrespect, but soon came to identify this new music and
culture (cf. also JET (April 02, 2007) Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five Inducted into the Rock and Roll
Hall of Fame. Johnson Publishing Company, 3637). For the history of hip hop, cf.:
Edwards, P. 2009. How to Rap: The Art & Science of the Hip-Hop MC. Chicago, Review Press,
Adam, B. 2011. The Anthology of Rap. Yale, Yale University Press


Jones (2013) reformed Freestyle and organized it in structured forms, with a view to
teaching it in schools or universities. According to Jones, Freestyle is a popular dance
with many dance moves. Through Freestyle dance, the dancer is able to express
himself freely and enhance his style19:
the trendiest and most popular form of dance in the U.K today. It involves runs, spins, kicks, and leaps as well as
many other diverse steps and movements with lots of different arm and hand actions. The music can be fast and
beaty or slow and sensuous, allowing dancers of all ages to use freedom of expression to enhance their style.20.


cf. Jones (2013: 12): Most of the class work used in schools now involves a far greater degree of activity than in
the early days. Competition dancers, particularly in the Championship grades, use the floor to its best advantage,
movement and projection being an integral part of their performance.
For the Freestyle dance and its worldwide diffusion, there is also the web site of the International Dance
Teachers Association - IDTA: www. site2/ styles. html # Freestyle Disco.


Table 6. The structure of a dance performance

Dance performance

1. Action

2. Word

3. Context

Create the communication between the dancer and the spectator

Table 7. Freestyle Structure

Text - Rhetoric figures

Freestyle dance

Contest Performance

Freestyle routines




Table 8. Artistic dances Categories

cademic dances






Lyrical Jazz

Urban dance

Folk - Charactre
Tap dance
Oriental dance
Traditional and popular Greek

Electric boogie
Hip hop


According to Androutsopoulos (2009: 43), it is possible to study the Hip Hop using
the sociolinguistics theories. This means that the Freestyle and Hip Hop can be
approached as texts. In the texts of the hip hop songs are emerging social reality and
knowledge around social issues and through dance are encoded and represented with
the help of technology.
Androutsopoulos (2009: 43) identifies four elements in Hip Hop.
These are: breaking, Djing, rapping, writing. These data are the basis of Freestyle and
Hip Hop and show two faces: the first, which characterizes the Freestyle and Hip Hop
as a "universal language (cf. Androutsopoulos, 2009: 43) and a second, which
considers it as a framework (context). Within the frame of reference (social or
general) and the Freestyle, Hip Hop is created, danced and played.
Therefore Freestyle and Hip Hop are two codes (codes). According to information
theory, the code is a key element in the semantic aspect of language (see Eco 1975).
In the semantic approach, language and dance are two communicative codes.
Language as a code includes dancing with the terminology and the various
manifestations. Language and dance are two communicative codes, which consist of a
sign system.
Thanks to this system, the entities can be interpreted, compared with other objects or
concepts or even with other sign systems.
Every message that a dancer transmits, can be interpreted according to a given code21.


cf. Beccaria (1994: 145): [] la lingua come c costituisce un sistema di segni che possono essere interpretati,
messi cio in rapporto con degli oggetti denotati, o con altri sistemi di segni. Un messaggio viene interpretato
secondo un dato c. Le due nozioni di c. e messaggio [Lepschy 1966], sono state usate anche per elaborare
quelle di tradizione saussuriana e struttralista di langue (c) e parole (messaggio), e di paradigmatica (c) e
sintagmatica (messaggio).
cf. Crystal (2011) s. v. Code (n.) The general sense of this term a set of conventions for converting one signaling
system into another enters into the subject - matter of Semiotics and Communication Theory rather than
Such notions as encoding and decoding are sometimes encountered in phonetics and linguistics, but the view of
language as a code is not one which figures greatly in these subjects.
The term has come to the fore in sociolinguistics, where it is mainly used as a neutral label for any system of
communication involving language and which avoids sociolinguists having to commit themselves to such terms
as dialect language or variety, which have a special status in their theories [] Several sociologists and
sociolinguists have given code a more restricted definition. For example, codes are sometimes defined in terms
of mutual intelligibility (e.g. the language of a private or professional group).
But the most widespread special use of this term was in the theory of communication codes propounded by the
British sociologist Basil Bernstein (1924 2000). His distinction between elaborated and restricted codes was part
of a theory of natural systems, concerned in particular with the kinds of meanings people communicate, and how
explicitly they do this, using the range of resources provided by the language.



Table 9. The three spheres of Hip Hop (Androutsopoulos, 2013: 44)


Hip Hop

between Hip
Hop fans and

1. Artistic Expression
2. ass Media or every mean
3. Discourse between Hip Hop fans and artists



Table 10. Performance modes of Freestyle and Hip Hop


creates Freestyle/Hip Hop

and makes it an object of
mimesis of the real or the
internal world

Hip Hop and Freestyle
are created by:

1. visual representation
2. the sound
3. the movement


4. the technical
manipulation of objects form the dance


Basic Freestyle movements: Kick Flick - Attitude

Freestyle dance involves a series of metaphors which are derived from the English (kick),
the French (Arabesque) and Spanish.
However, the in the Freestyle there is a small part of the ancient Greek dance, as shown by
the image of clay figurine, but also the dance figure called Alpha (Locking), because the
dancer's body forms the letter alpha.

Picture 2. Basic Freestyle movements (Kick Flick) (Jones, 2013: 47)

Picture. 3. Greek terracotta statuette of a dancing maenad, 3rd century B.C. Made in Taranto.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Inv. 12.232.13.
This movement resembles to the movement, called flick of Freestyle dance.


Kick /kik/ - Flick /flik/

According to OED, the etymology of the above mentioned terms are the following:
A sudden sharp movement
Strike or propel forcibly with the foot
late Middle English: symbolic, fl- frequently beginning words denoting sudden
Kick: late Middle English: of unknown origin.

For the term kick, there is also another etymological approach:
Kick Etymology
kick (v.) late 14c., "to strike out with the foot" (earliest in biblical phrase now usually rendered as kick against the
pricks), of uncertain origin, perhaps from Old Norse kikna "bend backwards, sink at the knees." "The doubts OED
has about the Scandinavian origin of kick are probably unfounded" [Liberman]. Related: Kicked; kicking.
Figurative sense of "complain, protest, rebel against" (late 14c.) probably is from the Bible verse. Slang sense of
"die" is attested from 1725 (kick the wind was slang for "be hanged," 1590s; see also bucket). Meaning "to end
one's drug habit" is from 1936. Kick in "contribute" is from 1908; kick out "expel" is from 1690s. To kick oneself
in self-reproach is from 1891. The children's game of kick the can is attested from 1891.kick (n.) 1520s, from kick
(v.). Meaning "recoil (of a gun) when fired" is from 1826. Meaning "surge or fit of pleasure" (often as kicks) is
from 1941; originally literally, "stimulation from liquor or drugs" (1844). The kick "the fashion" is c.1700.


Attitude //atit(y)ood/ - etymology

The term attitude is used in the Freestyle. This term comes from the Italian
language. Denotes an open body posture.
According to OED :
Attitude. Ballet. A position in which one leg is lifted behind with the knee bent at right angles and turned out,
and the corresponding arm is raised above the head, the other extended to the side24.
late 17th century (denoting the placing or posture of a figure in art): from French, from Italian attitudine 'fitness,
posture', from late Latin aptitudo, from aptus 'fit.

Picture 4. Attitude body posture (Jones, 2013: 53)




Attitude as a linguistic term

Picture 5. Half split Freestyle movement The posture of the body indicates an opening of the feet on the
floor while looks with intense way forward.
It is an attitude, which used to dance for empowerment. Reflects the strength and openness of soul and body and
through this movement, the dancer transmits joy and positive energy.

Cooper and Fishman comment on the term attitude (1974: 5):

Attitude has served as a variable in many sociolinguistic studies. This has been true in part because
sociolinguistic phenomena are complex enough to motivate a search for equally complex productive hypothetical
Thus for example language attitude appears as a catalyst for a sound change (Labov, 1963), a defining
characteristic of a speech community (Labov, 1966), a predictor of second language achievement, a reflection of
interethnic attitudes, a determinant of interlingual intelligibility and a determinant of teachers perception of their
pupils ability

According to psycholinguistics and psychology, body postures correspond to a word.

Every posture can indicate a positive or a negative sense25.


cf. also Oosterwijk, Suzanne; Rotteveel, Mark, Fischer, Agneta H., Hess, Ursula. 2009. Embodied emotion
concepts: how generating words about pride and disappointment influences posture. European Journal of Social
Psychology 39 (3), 457466. doi:10.1002/ejsp.584.
For the positive or negative sense of the opened or closed posture of the body, cf. Rossberg-Gempton, Irene; Gary
Poole. 1993. The effect of open and closed posture on pleasant and unpleasant emotions.The Arts in
Psycotherapy 20, 7582. doi:10.1016/0197-4556(93)90034-Y.


This theory is called Embodied Emotion theory

[] is the idea that mental events can be represented by states of the body. In a study showing embodied
emotion, participants were primed with concepts of pride and disappointment by a word generation task.
Researchers hypothesized there would be an observable change in participants' posture based on the word they
were primed with. This hypothesis was confirmed for the disappointment prime because participants were more
likely to decrease in their vertical height or show slumping behavior.


Dance is an object of scientific study, because through dance the collective memory
of the people is preserved. Also, values, messages and sentiments are expressed.
In many parts of Greece dancing in local parlance is considered "good taste"
(gr. philokalia - - innate disposition for the beauty) or "passion".
Passion leads the dancer to make moves simple and trivial expressing the emotion of
the dancer.
Each dance includes linguistic and social dimension and social dance down behaviors.
Therefore, every dance is the result of the interactive process that evolves in space
and time between language and society. S each dance will say it is a text 'on the
go'or text in motion.
In the end, every dance expresses:
1. Passion
2. Joviality
3. Skill - virtuosity
4. Suppleness
5. Participation
6. Humanity
anna (1987: 19) defines dance as:
1. Human behavior
2. Purposeful
3. Intentionally rhythmical
4. Culturally patterned sequences


According to the linguistic theories, dance is a structured system (frame), formed by

sociocultural patterns. It is a performance, a representation of linguistic, social and
cultural elements.
he summation of dance figures, according to Hanna, creates phrases (< gr.
lit. Spoken words ).
phrase is the expression of a partial thought, a group related movements in a pattern where there are
alternations of activity (speaking) and quiescence (pose, rest, energy diminution). A phrase has its own climax and
is distinguished by rhythmic patterns and usual configuration of locomotion and or gesture.(Hanna, 1989: 259)

Furthermore, dance contains:


Linguistic elements
Cultural elements
Aesthetic elements
Social elements (sometimes can be under social restraints)

For this reason, a study on dance it is possible to describe all the above mentioned
elements or one of them.


As Bambiniotis states (2013):

, , :
- - .
, , ,
, ,
, ,
, .
( ) ( ),
, ( ) ,
. , , ,

(, ) /.


cf. , . 2013. . . 1/12/2013


Table 11. Dance structure (Hanna, 1989: 259)

Surface Manifestations

Generative Structure Knowledge





Table 12. Codified and Functional Dances

Functional movement

Folk dances

Codified movement

Ballet - Hip Hop

Oriental dance




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Androutsopoulos, J. 2009. Language and the Three Spheres of Hip Hop.

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(Brills New Pauly)

(Dictionnaire tymologique de la Langue Grecque)
(Dictionnaire tymologique de la Langue Latin)
(Oxford English Dictionary)
Standard English
Modern Standard Greek
Ancient Greek
Classical Latin

Key words
Language, dance, dancer, message, communication, communicational approach,
Theory of Anthropological Competence, context, pattern, phrase, routine, frame