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Motivating the Symbolic

Towards a Cognitive Theory of the Linguistic Sign


Hubert Kowalewski

The book outlines a new approach to the study of motivation in language, which is firmly rooted in the paradigm of cognitive linguistics, but it is developed in critical (and constructive) dialogue with classical theories in semiotics: Ferdinand de Saussure’s structural linguistics and Charles S. Peirce’s model of the sign. The author’s proposal hinges upon the Peircean distinction between iconic, indexical, and symbolic signs, but the classical typology is reinterpreted within the framework of cognitive linguistics. The approach does not seek to "categorize" different linguistic expressions into one of the three Peircean types, but attempts to capture the dynamicity of meanings in terms of iconicity, indexicality, and conventionality. The book presents an analysis of selected vocabulary and morphosyntactic structures of English.

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I would like to thank prof. dr hab. Henryk Kardela for encouragement and invaluable assistance at every stage of writing this book.

I would also like to thank my friends and colleagues at the English Department of Maria Curie-Skłodowska University and elsewhere: prof. William Sullivan, dr hab. Waldemar Skrzypczak, prof. dr hab. Jolanta Szpyra-Kozłowska, dr hab. Przemysław Łozowski, dr hab. Adam Głaz, dr hab, Paweł Frelik, dr Andrzej Kowalczyk, dr Florian Bast, Mila Lorenc-Wawruch, Laetitia Rigobert, Beata Marczyńska-Fedorowicz, and everyone who was willing to listen why an orange is called orange.

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