Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton October 31, 2018

The communicative wheel: Symptom, signal, and model in multimodal communication

  • Per Durst-Andersen and Paul Cobley EMAIL logo
From the journal Semiotica


This paper addresses the need for a model of communication with a new, holistic conception of language within it. The resultant process model is called the Communicative Wheel. It consists of three communicative products: the sender’s input corresponding to his/her experience of a situation (symptom), an output corresponding to a piece of information to the receiver (signal), and the receiver’s intake corresponding to a description of the situation referred to (model). What the model of the wheel suggests, is that the understanding of “utterance” as symbolic needs to be replaced by an understanding of it as indexical.


Adloff, F. 2016. Gifts of cooperation, Mauss and pragmatism. London & New York: Routledge.10.4324/9781315692982Search in Google Scholar

Atkinson, R. C. & J. C. Schiffrin. 1968. Human memory: A proposed system and its control processes. In K. W. Spence & J. T. Spence (eds.), The psychology of learning and motivation, 89–195. New York: Academic Press.10.1016/S0079-7421(08)60422-3Search in Google Scholar

Austin, J. L. 1962. How to do things with words. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Baggio, G., H. van Lambalgen & P. Hagoort. 2012. The processing consequences of compositionality. In M. Werning, W. Hinzen & E. Mackery (eds.), The Oxford handbook of compositionality, 657–674. Oxford: Oxford University Press.10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199541072.013.0032Search in Google Scholar

Bakhtin, M. M. 1994 [1929]. Problemy tvorčestva Dostoevskogo. Kiev: Next.Search in Google Scholar

Bloomfield, L. 1935. Language. London: Allen & Unwin.Search in Google Scholar

Bruce, D. 2001. Fifty years since Lashley’s In search of the engram: Refutations and conjectures. Journal of the History of the Neurosciences 10(3). 308–318.10.1076/jhin.10.3.308.9086Search in Google Scholar

Bühler, K. 1934. Sprachtheorie: Die Darstellungsfunktion der Sprache. Stuttgart: Gustav Fischer Verlag.Search in Google Scholar

Chomsky, N. 1957. Syntactic structures. The Hague: Mouton.10.1515/9783112316009Search in Google Scholar

Cobley, P. 2006. Communication theories: Critical concepts in media and cultural studies, vol. 4, Abingdon: Routledge.Search in Google Scholar

Cobley, P. & P. J. Schulz (eds.). 2013a. Theories and models of communication. Berlin: de Gruyter.10.1515/9783110240450Search in Google Scholar

Cobley, P. & P. J. Schulz. 2013b. Introduction. In P. Cobley & P. J. Schulz (eds.), Theories and models of communication, 1–16, Berlin: de Gruyter.10.1515/9783110240450.1Search in Google Scholar

Cowan, N. 2008. What are the differences between long-term, short-term, and working memory? Progress in Brain Research 169. 323–338.10.1016/S0079-6123(07)00020-9Search in Google Scholar

Craig, R. T. 1999. Communication theory as a field. Communication Theory 9(2). 119–161.10.1111/j.1468-2885.1999.tb00355.xSearch in Google Scholar

Craig, R. T. 2013. Constructing theories in communication research. In P. Cobley & P. J. Schulz (eds.), Theories and models of communication, 39–58. Berlin: de Gruyter.10.1515/9783110240450.39Search in Google Scholar

Craig, R. T. 2015. The constitutive metamodel: A 16-year review. Communication Theory 25(4). 356–374.10.1111/comt.12076Search in Google Scholar

Dik, S. 1989. The structure of the clause (The theory of functional grammar 1). Dordrecht: Foris.10.1515/9783110871685-002Search in Google Scholar

Dudai, Y. 2004. The neurobiology of consolitations, or, how stable is the engram? Annual Review of Psychology 55. 51–86.10.1146/annurev.psych.55.090902.142050Search in Google Scholar

Durst-Andersen, P. 2008. Linguistics as semiotics. Saussure and Bühler revisited. Signs 2. 1–29.Search in Google Scholar

Durst-Andersen, P. 2009. The grammar of linguistic semiotics: Reading Peirce in a modern linguistic light. Cybernetics & Human Knowing 16 (3/4). 38–79.Search in Google Scholar

Durst-Andersen, P. 2011. Linguistic supertypes: A cognitive-semiotic theory of human communication. Berlin & New York: De Gruyter Mouton.10.1515/9783110253153Search in Google Scholar

Durst-Andersen, P. 2012. What languages tell us about the structure of the human mind. Journal of Cognitive Computation 4(1). 82–97.10.1007/s12559-011-9109-0Search in Google Scholar

Eadie, W. F. & R. Goret. 2013. Theories and models of communication: Foundations and heritage. In P. Cobley & P. J. Schulz (eds.), Theories and models of communication, 17–38, Berlin: de Gruyter.10.1515/9783110240450.17Search in Google Scholar

Goffman, E. 1959. The presentation of self in everyday life. New York: Doubleday.Search in Google Scholar

Greene, J. O. 1989. The stability of nonverbal behavior: An action–Production approach to problems of cross-situational consistency and discriminativeness. Journal of Language and Social Psychology 8. 193–220.10.1177/0261927X8983003Search in Google Scholar

Greene, J. O. 1997. A second generation action assembly theory. In J. O. Greene (ed.), Message production: Advances in communication theory, 151–170. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Search in Google Scholar

Greene, J. O. & E. D. Hall. 2013. Cognitive theories of communication. In P. Cobley & P. J. Schulz (eds.), Theories and models of communication, 181–198. Berlin: de Gruyter.10.1515/9783110240450.181Search in Google Scholar

Habermas, J. 2012. Nachmetaphysisches Denken II. Aufsätze und Repliken. Berlin: Suhrkamp Verlag.Search in Google Scholar

Halliday, M. A. K. 1975. Learning how to mean. London: Arnold.10.1016/B978-0-12-443701-2.50025-1Search in Google Scholar

Harmon, D. J., S. E. Green & G. T. Goodnight. 2015. A model of rhetorical legitimation: The structure of communication and cognition underlying institutional maintenance and change. Academy of Management Review 40 (1). 76–95.10.5465/amr.2013.0310Search in Google Scholar

Harris, R. 2009. Implicit and explicit language teaching. In M. Toolan (ed.), Language teaching: Integrational linguistic approaches, 24–46. London: Routledge.Search in Google Scholar

Hengeveld, K. 2004. The architecture of a functional discourse grammar. In J. Lachlan Mackenzie & M. Á. Gómec-González (eds.), A new architecture for functional grammar (Functional Grammar Series 24), 1–21. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Search in Google Scholar

Hjelmslev, L. 1943. Omkring sprogteoriens grundlæggelse. Copenhagen: Munksgaard.Search in Google Scholar

Hockett, C. F. 1958. A course in modern linguistics. New York: MacMillan.10.1111/j.1467-1770.1958.tb00870.xSearch in Google Scholar

Hockett, C. F. 1963. The problem of universals in language. In J. H. Greenberg (ed.), Universals in language, 1–22. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Search in Google Scholar

Hoff, Erika. 2009. Language development, 4th edn. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.Search in Google Scholar

Holdcroft, D. 1991. Saussure: Signs, systems, and arbitrariness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9780511624599Search in Google Scholar

Innis, R. 2013 [1982]. Karl Bühler: Semiotic foundations of language theory. New York: Springer Science & Business Media.Search in Google Scholar

Jakobson, R. 1960. Linguistics and poetics. In T. A. Sebeok (ed.), Style in language, 350–377. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Search in Google Scholar

Jakobson, R. 1971 [1962]. Zeichen und System der Sprache. In Selected Writings II, 272–279. The Hague & Paris: Mouton.10.1515/9783110873269.272Search in Google Scholar

Jakobson, R. 1971 [1968]. Language in relation to other communication systems. In Selected Writings II, 797–708. The Hague & Paris: Mouton.Search in Google Scholar

Jocelyn, S. A. 2010. Continuing the search for the engram: Examining the mechanism of fear memories. Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience 35: 221–228.10.1503/jpn.100015Search in Google Scholar

Johnson-Laird, P. N. 1983. Mental models: Towards a cognitive science of language, inference, and consciousness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Kany, W. & H. Schröler. 2014. Theorien zum Spracherwerb. In L. Ahnert (ed.), Theorien in der Entwicklungspsychologie, 468–485. Berlin: Springer Verlag.10.1007/978-3-642-34805-1_18Search in Google Scholar

Kendon, A. 1995. Gestures as illocutionary and discourse structure markers in Southern Italian conversation. Journal of Pragmatics 23. 247–279.10.1016/0378-2166(94)00037-FSearch in Google Scholar

Kendon, A. 2014. Semiotic diversity in utterance production and the concept of language. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 369(151). 20130293.10.1098/rstb.2013.0293Search in Google Scholar

Krippendorf, K. 1993. Major metaphors of communication and some constructivist reflections on their use. Cybernetics and Human Knowing 2(1). 3–25.Search in Google Scholar

Lakoff, G. 1987. Women, fire, and dangerous things: What categories reveal about the mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.10.7208/chicago/9780226471013.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Langacker, R. W. 1999. Grammar and conceptualization. Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter.10.1515/9783110800524Search in Google Scholar

Langacker, R. W. 2008. Cognitive grammar: A basic introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195331967.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Leech, G. 1983. The principles of pragmatics. London: Longman.Search in Google Scholar

Liefschitz, A. 2012. The arbitrariness of the linguistic sign: Variations on an enlightenment theme. Journal of the History of Ideas 73(4). 537–557.10.1353/jhi.2012.0042Search in Google Scholar

Luhmann, N. 1995. Social systems. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Lyons, J. 1977. Semantics, vol. 1, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Marler, P. 1961. The logical analysis of animal communication. Journal of Theoretical Biology 1. 295–317.10.1016/0022-5193(61)90032-7Search in Google Scholar

Martinet, A. 1949. La double articulation linguistique. Travaux Du Cercle Linguistique De Copenhague 5: 30–37.10.1080/01050206.1949.10416289Search in Google Scholar

Mauss, M. 1990 [1925]. The gift. New York & London: Norton.10.4324/9780203407448Search in Google Scholar

McNeill, D. 1992. Hand and mind: What gestures reveal about thought. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Search in Google Scholar

Nussbaum, M. C. 2001. Upheavals of thought: The intelligence of emotions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9780511840715Search in Google Scholar

Osteen, M. 2002. The question of the gift: Essays across disciplines. New York: Routledge.Search in Google Scholar

Panther, K-U. 2013. Motivation in language. In S. Kreitler (ed.), Cognition and motivation: Forging an interdisciplinary perspective, 407–432. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9781139021463.023Search in Google Scholar

Peirce, Charles S. 1931–1966. In C. Hartshorne, P. Weiss & A W. Burks (eds.), The collected papers of Charles S. Peirce, vol. 8, Cambridge: Harvard University Press. [Reference to Peirce’s papers will be designated CP followed by volume and paragraph number].Search in Google Scholar

Peirce, Charles S. 1953. In I. Leib (ed.), Charles S. Peirce’s letters to Lady Welby, 12 October, 1904, pp. 6–14. New Haven: Yale University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Piaget, J. 1954. The origins of intelligence in children. New York: International University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Piaget, J. & B. Inhelder. 1966. L’image mentale chez l’enfant. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.Search in Google Scholar

Polanyi, M. 2015 [1958]. Personal knowledge: Towards a post-critical philosophy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.10.7208/chicago/9780226232768.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Saussure, F., de. 1916. Cours de linguistique générale. Paris: Payot.Search in Google Scholar

Schramm, W. 1954. How communication works. In W. Schramm (ed.), The process and effects of mass communication, 3–26. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.Search in Google Scholar

Schweppe, J. & R. Rummer. 2014. Attention, working memory, and long-term memory in multimedia learning: An integrated perspective based on process models of working memory. Education and Psychology Review 26(2). 285–306.10.1007/s10648-013-9242-2Search in Google Scholar

Searle, J. R. 1969. Speech acts: An essay in the philosophy of language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9781139173438Search in Google Scholar

Semon, R. 1921. The mneme. London: George Allen & Unwin.Search in Google Scholar

Shannon, C. E. 1948. A mathematical theory of communication. Bell System Technical Journal 27. 379–425, 623–656.10.1002/j.1538-7305.1948.tb01338.xSearch in Google Scholar

Sherry, J. E. 1983. Gift giving in anthropological perspective. Journal of Consumer Research 10. 157–168.10.1086/208956Search in Google Scholar

Solomon, R. C. 2004. Emotions, thoughts, and feelings: Emotions as engagements with the world. In: R. C. Solomon (ed.), Thinking about feeling: Contemporary philosophers on emotions, 76–88. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Sun, R. 2005. Symbol grounding: A new look at an old idea. Philosophical Psychology 13(2). 149–172.10.1080/09515080050075663Search in Google Scholar

Taddeo, M. & L. Floridi. 2005. Solving the symbol grounding problem: A critical review of fifteen years of research. Journal of Experimental & Theoretical Artificial Intelligence 17(4). 419–445.10.1080/09528130500284053Search in Google Scholar

Talmy, L. 2001. Typology and process in concept structuring (Toward a cognitive semantics 2). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.10.7551/mitpress/6848.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

UexküLl, J., von. 1921. Umwelt und Innenwelt der Tiere, 2nd edn. Berlin: Verlag von Julius Springer.10.1007/978-3-662-24819-5Search in Google Scholar

Vogt, P. 2002. The physical grounding problem. Cognitive Systems Research 3(3). 429–457.10.1016/S1389-0417(02)00051-7Search in Google Scholar

Wemer, H. & B. Kaplan. 2014 [1984]. Symbol formation: An organismic developmental approach to the psychology of language. New York & London: Psychology Press.Search in Google Scholar

Wimmer, H. & J. Perner. 1983. Beliefs about beliefs: Representation and constraining function of wrong beliefs in young children’s understanding of deception. Cognition 13. 103–128.10.1016/0010-0277(83)90004-5Search in Google Scholar

Wright, G. H., von. 1974. Causality and determinism. New York: Columbia University Press.10.7312/wrig90574Search in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2018-10-31
Published in Print: 2018-11-06

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

Downloaded on 6.2.2023 from
Scroll Up Arrow