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date: 23 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The basic problem of language is childlike in its simplicity: How can we understand one another? How is it that I can make some noises, you can hear them, and we can arrive at some shared meaning? How can we ever be sure we are really thinking the same thought as a result of our communication? Two broad approaches to answering this question divide those who study language and semantics. This article explores the many ways in which the term “embodiment” has been cashed out by various researchers in cognitive linguistics. It then retraces some of the history of the embodiment hypothesis and show how its scope expanded to encompass topics as diverse as the grounding of meaning, the motivating factors of semantic change, experientialism, experimental cognitive psychology, and cognitive neuroscience. Finally, the article offers a theoretical framework inspired by related work in the philosophy of cognitive science and intended to serve as a useful organizational tool for situating and making connections between these varying research projects.

Keywords: embodiment, experientialism, cognitive linguistics, semantics, cognitive neuroscience, language, semantic change, experimental cognitive psychology, meaning

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