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

Editor-in-Chief: Danesi, Marcel

IMPACT FACTOR 2018: 0.509

CiteScore 2018: 0.23

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.232
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.478

Agenzia Nazionale di Valutazione del Sistema Universitario e della Ricerca: Classe A

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Volume 2013, Issue 196


Mother sense and the image schema of the gift

Genevieve Vaughan
Published Online: 2013-08-23 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2013-0047


Beginning with the work of Lakoff and Johnson in the 1980s in cognitive linguistics there has been an intense exploration of image schemas, i.e., corporeal schemas that are projected into language at various levels. These include up is good, container, inside/outside, path to goal, and many others. I propose an intercorporeal schema derived from mothering and being mothered, giving and receiving, which I call the image schema of the gift. This schema, abstracted in early childhood from the experience of being nurtured, includes the other from the beginning as giver and receiver of nurturing. The image schema of the gift is mapped into language as transitivity in syntax but also exists in the communicative interaction per se. Many of the aspects of Welby's Mother sense or primal sense can be applied to the image schema of the gift. For example, like Mother-sense the schema is “an apriori with respect to sexual identity (indeed with respect to any form of separation based on the logic of identity)” (Petrilli 2009) though the Western construction of masculinity has become caught up in the abstract and ego oriented anti-maternal logic of the market (and vice versa). The transitive logic of the gift is other oriented, value-conferring, and humanizing. Projecting mothering and being mothered onto our surroundings provides a rationale for understanding signs and perceptions as need-satisfying gifts and services. Thus, like Mother-sense, the image schema of the gift can be considered part of the human species specific primary modelling device.

Keywords: gift; mother; schema; syntax; salience; monetization

About the article

Genevieve Vaughan

Genevieve Vaughan (b. 1939) is an independent researcher 〈 〉. Her research interests include the maternal gift economy and culture and language as verbal nurturing. Her publications include For-giving, a feminist criticism of exchange (1997); and Homo donans (2006).

Published Online: 2013-08-23

Published in Print: 2013-08-15

Citation Information: Semiotica, Volume 2013, Issue 196, Pages 57–77, ISSN (Online) 1613-3692, ISSN (Print) 0037-1998, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2013-0047.

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©[2013] by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston.Get Permission

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