Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …


Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies / Revue de l'Association Internationale de Sémiotique

Editor-in-Chief: Danesi, Marcel

6 Issues per year

CiteScore 2016: 0.32

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2016: 0.240
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2016: 0.819

See all formats and pricing
More options …
Volume 2013, Issue 194


Making sense together: A dynamical account of linguistic meaning-making

Kristian Tylén / Riccardo Fusaroli / Peer F. Bundgaard / Svend Østergaard
Published Online: 2013-04-06 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2013-0021


How is linguistic communication possible? How do we come to share the same meanings of words and utterances? One classical position holds that human beings share a transcendental “platonic” ideality independent of individual cognition and language use (Frege 1948). Another stresses immanent linguistic relations (Saussure 1959), and yet another basic embodied structures as the ground for invariant aspects of meaning (Lakoff and Johnson 1999). Here we propose an alternative account in which the possibility for sharing meaning is motivated by four sources of structural stability: 1) the physical constraints and affordances of our surrounding material environment, 2) biological constraints of our human bodies, 3) social normative constraints of culture and society, and 4) the local history of social interactions. These structures and constraints interact in dynamical ways in actual language usage situations: local dialogical and social dynamics motivate and stabilize the profiling of a conceptual space already highly structured by our shared biology, culture, and environment. We will substantiate this perspective with reference to recent studies in experimental pragmatics and semiotics in which participants interact linguistically to solve cooperative tasks. Three main cases will be considered: The dynamic grounding of linguistic categories, the construction of conceptual models to relate entities in a scene, and the construction of shared conceptual scales for assessing and appraising subjective experiences.

Keywords: meaning-making; categorization; conceptual models; affordances; social dynamics

About the article

Kristian Tylén

Kristian Tylén (b. 1974) is a postdoctoral researcher at Aarhus University 〈Kristian@cfin.dk〉. His research interests include dynamical approaches to language and cognition, cognitive aesthetics, and experimental semiotics. His publications include “Language as a tool for interacting minds” (with E. Weed et al., 2010); and “Coming to terms: Quantifying the benefits of linguistic coordination” (with R. Fusaroli et al., 2012).

Riccardo Fusaroli

Riccardo Fusaroli (b. 1981) is a postdoctoral researcher at Aarhus University 〈fusaroli@gmail.com〉. His research interests include linguistic coordination, experimental semiotics/pragmatics, and complex systems approaches to social interactions. His publications include “Coming to terms” (with B. Bahrami et al. 2012); “The self-organization of human interaction” (with R. Dale et al., in press); and “Dialogue as interpersonal synergy” (with J. Raczaszek-Leonardi & K. Tylén, in press).

Peer F. Bundgaard

Peer F. Bundgaard (b. 1967) is an associate professor at Aarhus University 〈sempb@hum.au.dk〉. His research interests include aesthetic semiotics and the crossovers between cognitive linguistics and phenomenology of language. His publications include “Towards a cognitive semiotics of the visual artwork” (2009); “Husserl and language” (2010); and “The grammar of aesthetic intuition – on Ernst Cassirer's concept of symbolic forms in the visual arts” (2011).

Svend Østergaard

Svend Ostergaard (b. 1949) is an associate professor at the University of Aarhus 〈semsvend@hum.au.dk〉. His research interests include cognitive linguistics and cognitive neuroscience. His publications include The mathematics of meaning (1997).

Aarhus University

Published Online: 2013-04-06

Published in Print: 2013-04-05

Citation Information: Semiotica, Volume 2013, Issue 194, Pages 39–62, ISSN (Online) 1613-3692, ISSN (Print) 0037-1998, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2013-0021.

Export Citation

©[2013] by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston. Copyright Clearance Center

Citing Articles

Here you can find all Crossref-listed publications in which this article is cited. If you would like to receive automatic email messages as soon as this article is cited in other publications, simply activate the “Citation Alert” on the top of this page.

Juan Olvido Perea García, Katrine Rosendal Ehlers, and Kristian Tylén
Language & Communication, 2017, Volume 54, Page 73
S. Orestis Palermos
Minds and Machines, 2016, Volume 26, Number 4, Page 409
Julian Zubek, Michał Denkiewicz, Agnieszka Dębska, Alicja Radkowska, Joanna Komorowska-Mach, Piotr Litwin, Magdalena Stępień, Adrianna Kucińska, Ewa Sitarska, Krystyna Komorowska, Riccardo Fusaroli, Kristian Tylén, and Joanna Rączaszek-Leonardi
Frontiers in Psychology, 2016, Volume 7
Juan Olvido Perea García
Journal of Language Evolution, 2016, Volume 1, Number 2, Page 151
Kristian Tylén, Johanne Stege Philipsen, Andreas Roepstorff, and Riccardo Fusaroli
NeuroImage, 2016, Volume 134, Page 105
Elena C. Cuffari
Frontiers in Psychology, 2014, Volume 5
John Z. Elias and Kristian Tylén
Frontiers in Psychology, 2014, Volume 5

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in