The embodiment of connotations: A proposed model

Yair Neuman, Newton Howard, Louis Falissard, Rafi Malach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The idea that abstract words are grounded in our sensorimotor experience is gaining support and popularity, as observed in the increasing number of studies dealing with "neurosemantics." Therefore, it is important to form models that explain how to bridge the gap between basic bodily experiences and abstract language. This paper focuses on the embodiment of connotations, such as "sweet" in "sweet baby," where the adjective has been abstracted from its concrete and embodied sense. We summarize several findings from recent studies in neuroscience and the cognitive sciences suggesting that emotion, body, and language are three factors required for understanding the emergence of abstract words, and (1) propose a model explaining how these factors contribute to the emergence of connotations, (2) formulate a computational model instantiating our theoretical model, and (3) test our model in a task involving the automatic identification of connotations. The results support our model pointing to the role of embodiment in the formation of connotations.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)65-79
Number of pages15
Issue number218
StatePublished - 26 Sep 2017


  • computational semiotics
  • connotations
  • embodiment
  • neurosemantics

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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