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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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Bibliographic Information published by the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic data is available in the internet at

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Kowalewski, Hubert, author. Title: Motivating the symbolic : towards a cognitive theory of the linguistic sign / Hubert Kowalewski. Description: Frankfurt am Main ; New York : Peter Lang, [2016] | Series: Sounds - Meaning - Communication ; Volume 1 Identifiers: LCCN 2016012808| ISBN 9783631671078 (Print) | ISBN 9783653064070 (E-Book) Subjects: LCSH: Cognitive grammar. | Semiotics–Psychological aspects | Motivation–Psychological aspects. | Semantics–Psychological aspects. | Functionalism (Linguistics) Classification: LCC P99.4.P78 K69 2016 | DDC 415.01/835–dc23 LC record available at

This publication was financially supported by Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, Lublin, Poland.

Reviewer: Przemysław Łozowski.

Cover image: Courtesy of Jerzy Durczak.

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