Centrum för kognitiv semiotik (CCS)

Humanistiska och teologiska fakulteterna | Lunds universitet



Next seminar

  • 30/1. Tapani Möttönen (Aalto University). An outline for cognititive-interactional semantics: Theory and practice


Spring Term Seminars 2020


January 2020

  • 23/1.  Jordan Zlatev (Cognitive semiotics, Lund): Polysemiosis vs. multimodality: narration, pantomime and metaphor
    • Abstract: Language, gesture and depiction are three universal human semiotic systems, realized in various ways dependent on culture and technology. While each may be used independently, most spontaneous human communication involves the combination of two or more of these (and other) systems: polysemiosis. This allows complex interactions of sign use, where the different expressive potentials of the systems interplay with and balance one another in ways that remain to be explored in detail.
      Some research that is relevant for this topic is carried out under the banner of multimodality. “Modality”, however, remains a highly ambiguous notion. For some, it corresponds to the notion of semiotic system (e.g. Forceville 2017). In gesture studies, language itself is considered “multimodal” (Vigliocco, Perniss & Vinson, 2014) and in social semiotics one considers the combination of “modes” such as speech, text, picture, color, music, typography, design etc. (Kress, 2009). Finally, in psychology “modality” is used to refer to the different senses: vision, hearing, touch, smell and touch (and proprioception), and perception is known to be multimodal.
      In my cognitive semiotic approach, I restrict multimodality to the latter “sensory”, sense, and tease it apart from polysemiotic communication (Zlatev 2019). In my presentation, I will illustrate the usefulness of this distinction by reviewing three empirical studies: on unimodal vs. multimodal pantomime (Zlatev et al, 2017), on translating from monosemiotic to polysemiotic narratives (Louhema et al. in preparation) and on monosemiotic and polysemiotic metaphor in street art (Stampoulidis et al. in preparation).

      Forceville, C. 2017. Visual and multimodal metaphor in advertising: cultural perspectives. Styles of Communication 9(2). 26–41.
      Kress, G. 2009. Multimodality: A social semiotic approach to contemporary communication. London: Routledge.
      Vigliocco, G., Perniss, P., & Vinson, D. (2014). Language as a multimodal phenomenon: implications for language learning, processing and evolution. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, 369(1651), 20130292.
      Zlatev, J. 2019. Mimesis theory, learning and polysemiotic communication. Encylcopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory. Springer.


  • 30/1. Tapani Möttönen (Aalto University). An outline for cognititive-interactional semantics: Theory and practice
    • Abstract: Cognitive Linguistics (CL) and Interactional linguistics (IL) have often been portrayed as antithetical relative to their philosophical underpinnings, notion of language and analytical practice. In particular, the notion of cognition as mind and its contents has served as a demarcation line: accessible and, indeed, invaluably central for semantically-driven analysis by CL, mind and mental constructs have been considered opaque and marginal for analysis of linguistics interaction at least by much of more traditional IL that is inspired by the methodological purism of Conversation Analysis (CA). Recent developments both within CL and IL suggest, however, that the strict demarcation between the two types of linguistics is neither conceptually well-founded or methodologically constructive. Indeed, much of linguistics in both camps has been inspired by relatively simplistic and solipsistic notions of cognition and concepts. In fact, the very notion put forward by classical CL – that mental constructs are central for linguistics meaning and thus accessible to linguistic analysis – implies a social notion of cognition, whereby linguistic units are simultaneously analyzable as socially transmitted (i.e. socio-normative) and internalized and thus inherently perspectival constructs. This ontologically complex notion of language, in turn, suggests a methodology, whereby linguistic interaction is analyzed in terms of conventional semantic units. In this talk, I will put forward a notion of cognitive-interactional semantics. In practice, this will require a closer analysis of the philosophical premises of both CL and IL. I will argue, that any linguistic analysis is inherently dependent on phenomenological analysis, and an intentional notion of, meaning. Methodologically, application of the notion of construal to interactional data will be considered.

February 2020

  • 6/2. Josef Mörnerud (Furuboda Folkhögskola). A Phenomenological Analysis of Formal and Informal Discourse on Education and Research at Universities in Sweden and China
    • Abstract: In this research, science and its political appearance are studied through an empirical exploration of their representations in narrative expressions. The field of investigation is allocated to formal and informal discourse on education and research at universities in Sweden and China. The analysed expressions were taken from 202 written reports, as students and personnel in both countries answered an open ended-question, and four formal documents: the Chinese and Swedish laws on higher education and documents on research, science, and technology. The narratives were processed through a Meaning-Constitution-Analysis (MCA), a tool used to perform a deep study of a text based on a phenomenological approach that aims at making the implied assumptions and worldviews explicit. The analysis revealed a common representation of the university as an intermediary between the government and the student in the Swedish narratives and as a meta-character differentiated from the government in the Chinese narratives. Further, the meaning of science appeared as an adjective that characterizes a certain sphere of life in the informal narratives and as a dynamic behind a desired development in the formal narratives. The meaning of politics emerged in the Swedish narratives as the formation of an environment, mainly for activities in an institutional balance between input and outcomes. In the Chinese narratives, politics appeared as a competition for status, in which both academia and the government claim the recognition awarded for successful development. These representations of politics can guide the interpretation of the otherwise quite general understanding of education as a structure to be filled with activities in the Swedish narratives and an object for a discussion based on values in the Chinese narratives as well as the representation of research as an asset in the Swedish narratives and a source of legitimacy in the Chinese narratives.

  • 13/2. Room SOL Absalon A339. Linea Brink Andersen (masteruppsats at Cognitive Semiotics); Opponent: Sigrid Svensson. Examinator: Maria Graziano. Non-actual Motion Expressions in Language and Gesture
    • Abstract: This thesis studies the phenomenon of non-actual motion (NAM) (Blomberg, 2014; Blomberg & Zlatev 2014), and its expression in language and gestures. It has been documented that many languages employ expressions of motion in descriptions of static scenarios (Amagawa, 1997; Blomberg, 2014; Matsumoto, 1996; Rojo & Valenzuela, 2003, 2009; Stosic & Sarda, 2009), here called NAM-expressions (NAM-Es). It has been proposed that NAM-Es have different experiential motivations (Blomberg 2014; Blomberg & Zlatev, 2014; Langacker, 1987; Matsumoto, 1996; Talmy, 2000a), which may, collectively, be called NAM-motivations. This thesis discusses four possible NAM-motivations: visual scanning, imagination, affordance of motion, and enactive self-motion, the latter for the first time. An empirical study was conducted to distinguish between the influence of three of these NAM-motivations, visual scanning, affordance of motion, and enactive self-motion, on expressions of non-actual motion in language and gesture. Thirty-nine native speakers of Swedish described 20 drawings depicting spatially extended objects, which were varied systematically to favor the different NAM-motivations. It was tested how frequently NAM-Es occurred in description of different stimuli-types, and a semantic framework for the analysis of motion expressions in gestures was developed to test whether different NAM-motivations were reflected in gestural NAM-Es. It was found that all the NAM-motivations that were investigated appear to function as motivations for NAM-expressions, but to varying extents. It was found that affordance of motion was relevant for both narrow and (what is here called) extended linguistic NAM-Es, but not for gestures. Enactive self-motion was relevant for extended linguistic NAM-Es, and visual scanning for narrow linguistic NAM-Es. The influence of visual scanning and enactive self-motion on gestural expression of NAM is complex, and needs further research.

  • 20/2.
  • 27/2. Michael Anderson (magisteruppsats at Cognitive Semiotics); Opponent: Linea Andersen. Does Familiarity Affect Gestural Rates?
    • Abstract: Face-to-face dialogue can be regarded as a direct and visible way to establish a close connection, between two people facing each other communicate proactively and without barriers. It also plays a key role in the study of verbal and nonverbal communication. A number of studies provide an overview of how gesture rates in face-to-face conditions have registered high rates compared with other social settings. These settings included monologue conversation, using intercom devices or using partitioned walls to separate speakers from seeing each other (Alibali & Heath, 2001; Bavelas, 1992; Bavelas & Chovil, 2006; Hostetter & Potthoff, 2012). Although research on gesture rates is limited and restricted to a few aspects such as visibility and gesture functions, this study focuses on the effects of different degrees of familiarity (friend, acquaintance and stranger), in face-to-face interaction. The collected data was based on video recording sessions and visual interaction. The results show that each level of familiarity has different gestural rates. For example, higher gestural rates were registered when the speaker talks with an acquaintance and lower gestural rates registered when the speaker interacts with a friend and with a stranger. The study highlights the influence of the speaker's knowledge, the use of English as a second language and social behavior which are also discussed.

March 2020

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April 2020

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May 2020

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June 2020

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Seminars are held 13:15-15:00 every Thursday at SOL:H428b, unless otherwise indicated.

Please note that, after an experiment a year ago with moving the seminar to Fridays, we have now returned to having it on Thursdays.