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Cognitive Linguistics

Editor-in-Chief: Divjak, Dagmar

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Volume 25, Issue 2


Cognitive grounding for cross-cultural commercial communication

Lorena Pérez Hernández
Published Online: 2014-06-05 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cog-2014-0015


Internationally recognized brands are an increasingly essential asset for present-day companies. This paper takes a cognitive perspective on the semantics of commercial brands (and their related logos), and explores the role of image schemas in endowing them with a cross-culturally significant core meaning. Two surveys were carried out among speakers of four different languages (i.e., English, Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic) in relation to the logos of several car categories (minis, family cars, 4 × 4s, and sports cars) and a limited set of image schemas (CONTAINER, FORCE, and ATTRIBUTE). The analysis of the results reveals a consistent correlation between the participants' semantic interpretation of the car brands, and the basic meanings deriving from the image schemas included in their logos. The outcome of the surveys also points to the existence of potential constraints on the universal reach of image-schematic-based communication. These limitations emerge either from the combination of image schemas with additional idealized cultural models, or from the use of specific richer configurations of the image-schematic visual cues at work. In this connection, the present study explores the inventory of visual configurations available for the representation of the image schemas under scrutiny, assesses their universal significance, and raises awareness about differences in the cross-cultural communicative effectiveness of the various layouts of a given image-schematic cue.

Keywords: cognitive grounding; image schemas; branding; global communication

About the article

Received: 2013-05-09

Revised: 2014-04-01

Accepted: 2014-04-04

Published Online: 2014-06-05

Published in Print: 2014-06-01

Citation Information: Cognitive Linguistics, Volume 25, Issue 2, Pages 203–248, ISSN (Online) 1613-3641, ISSN (Print) 0936-5907, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cog-2014-0015.

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