Embodied intersubjectivity, sedimentation and non-actual motion expressions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


As part of a long-term project investigating the relevance of phenomenology for (cognitive) linguistics we analyse two central, interrelated concepts: embodied intersubjectivity (intercorporeality) and sedimentation. With respect to the first, we spell out a number of different intercorporeal structures, emanating at the most fundamental level from the dual Leibkörper nature of the body. Further, we demonstrate that sedimentation is more than a 'geological metaphor' as meaning is intrinsically layered in human experience. This is first illustrated by reviewing evidence from ontogenetic semiotic development within the framework of the Mimesis Hierarchy model (Zlatev 2013). Then, we focus on the linguistic construal of situations lacking actual motion in dynamic terms through expressions of non-actual motion such as The road goes through the forest and He was uplifted by her smile. We review studies of non-actual motion in Swedish, English, French, Bulgarian and Thai extending and re-formulating previous analyses. We argue that the present analysis is more adequate than cognitive linguistic explanations in terms of 'mental simulation' and 'conceptual metaphor'. We conclude by pointing out how our phenomenological investigation can help resolve a number of classical dilemmas in semantics: Is language primarily grounded in the body or in society? Is the ontology of linguistic meaning mental or social? What is the relationship between pre-linguistic experiences and linguistic conventions?


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics


  • Construal, Conventions, Embodiment, Emotions, Intersubjectivity, Keywords body, Leibkörper, Metaphor, Motivations, Phenomenology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-208
Number of pages24
JournalNordic Journal of Linguistics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Oct 1
Publication categoryResearch

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