Semantic Grounding of Movement: Effects of Movement Execution on the Semantic Processing

Posted: 31 Oct 2008

See all articles by Jurgis Skilters

Jurgis Skilters

University of Latvia

Claudia Böger

Universität der Bundeswehr München

Date Written: October, 31 2008


The paper will, first, explore the underlying model of semantic processing according to which meaning is grounded in bodily experience. Meaning is defined as a perceptually determined cognitive structure with two closely connected dimensions: (1) agent-specific information, (2) environmental information. Instead of assuming a core meaning we understand meaning as a dynamical online generated entity involving both (a) multiple sensorial domains and (b) multiple levels of cognitive processing. Image Schematic processes of meaning generation will be examined in detail.

Second, our paper will highlight interactional effects between the environment and an agent. Situational and experiential factors are constrained by dynamical non-verbal conceptual structures with image schematic patterns of bodily articulation. Also a definition of what counts as environment both in the framework of movement sciences and semantics will be provided in detail. Our research results are consistent with the Indexical Hypothesis (Glenberg 1997), Perceptual Symbols' Theory (Barsalou 1999), simulation semantics (Bergen 2007) and continuity of mind conception (Spivey 2007).

We will also both empirically and theoretically explore the idea that meaning assignment in case of movement verbs is faster at the level of movement execution than language articulation. As a case study we will provide experimental evidence based on some finished and current research: semantic processing of metaphoric information within a dynamic agent-environment interaction is more efficient than processing of non-metaphorical information and also more efficient than without agent-environment interaction. (Our results are true even if metaphors are not connected with movement verbs.)

We will also make some claims (movement invariance hypothesis) that image schematic structure contained in instructions for movement execution is the same as in the bodily act of movement execution. The same image schemas work both in instructions of movement execution and in the movement execution itself.

Third, we will discuss some theoretical implications. In particular, concerning action-sentence compatibility effects (Glenberg, Kaschak 2002) and Indexical Hypothesis (Glenberg 1997).

The status of image schemas will be examined: are image schemas representational or are they dynamical patterns without a level of representation (Gibbs 2005)? We are inclined to accept latter hypothesis and characterize image schemas as (1) preconditions and patterns of cognition developed before language (in the sense of first cognitive patterns), (2) structures modified during life both perceptually in action and also in simulation.

Suggested Citation

Skilters, Jurgis and Boger, Claudia, Semantic Grounding of Movement: Effects of Movement Execution on the Semantic Processing (October, 31 2008). 9th Conference on Conceptual Structure, Discourse, and Language (CSDL9), Available at SSRN:

Jurgis Skilters (Contact Author)

University of Latvia ( email )

19 Raina Boulevard
Riga LV 1586

Claudia Boger

Universität der Bundeswehr München

Werner-Heisenberg-Weg 39
Munich, 85579

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