Dance as Dialogue: Metaphorical Conceptualization and Semantic Domains

Signata 6, Annals of Semiotics, 2015

21 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2016

Date Written: January 27, 2016


If we look at the structural contents of dance as a domain of experience, it is interesting how we conceptualize - and hence talk about - it, not least metaphorically, borrowing ways of thinking about it from other domains - and reversely how dance can provide a conceptual frame for talking about things that are only metaphorically dance-related. The aim in this paper is to tie these dimensions together - communication, dance and music - and explore their interrelation, by applying Semantic Domains Theory to dialogue metaphors for dance.

Through this novel methodology and by applying the notion of semantic domains to concrete examples of empirical language use, I seek to present a convincing argument for the crucial significance of rhythm, common to music and language, both in markedly rhythmic dialogue-behavior (apparent as a parameter even in prelinguistic infant behavior), as well as in musical prosody and the prosody of linguistic utterances. Furthermore, a central emphasis in what follows is an, I claim, prominent and important aspect to having a body, which is often overlooked or trivialized in cognitive linguistics (as discussed below), namely the social one. An informed appreciation of our non-isolated, non-self-reliant way of being in the world in turn warrants a reevaluation of the cognitive-linguistic concept of the “embodied” mind.

Subsections: 1. Interpersonal attunement and turn-taking interaction: Introductory remarks on music and language 2. Linguistic metaphor, conceptual metaphor, and domains 3. Source and target domains in dance-as-dialogue metaphors 4. Tango: a romantic dialogue 5. Capoeira: a dialogue of acrobatics 6. Concluding remarks

Keywords: Capoeira, conversation, dance, dialogue, metaphor, music, rhythm, semantic domains, tango

Suggested Citation

Brandt, Line, Dance as Dialogue: Metaphorical Conceptualization and Semantic Domains (January 27, 2016). Signata 6, Annals of Semiotics, 2015. Available at SSRN:

Line Brandt (Contact Author)

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