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On the embodied nature of material processes

1 March 2015

On the embodied nature of material processes: neural correlates of action language

Presenter: Adolfo Garcia

Recorded seminar

Faculty of Human Sciences series, Macquarie

Seminar presented: 04 November 2014

Dr Garcia was welcomed by David Butt for, among other things, emphasising and bringing a broader scientific framework for linguistics.

His presentation provided a great deal of persuasive evidence for the existence of neural correlates for processes and participants. He tried to draw out how grammar options are semantically motivated (as versus the generally arbitrary relationship of phonology to grammar), emphasising the naturalness of the link between semantic and lexical strata.

Experiments cited showed that the distinction of processes and participants held ontologically, semantically (events versus entities), and lexically. In a very simple summary, brain motor area impairment affects ‘processes’ and ‘verbs’ (semantic and lexical) and an impairment in the  temporal lobe affects nouns and participants (termed ‘abstract’ by the researchers).

Garcia suggested that another layer could be applied to the familiar stratal diagram – a suprasemantic layer – which is the embodied cognition, the extra-linguistic somatic system. which naturally has implications for what is selected in the semantic layer

Additional reading

García, A. M. & Ibáñez, A. (accepted). Processes and verbs of doing, in the brain: Theoretical implications for systemic functional linguistics. Functions of Language. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Melrose, R. (2005, 2006). Neural processing of attitude, evaluation, and theory of mind (interpreted in terms of interpersonal semantics); and Mirror neurons and ideational semantics.

Relevance to the study

The Melrose paper on theory of mind could be worth consulting when considering the ontological perception of talking things.


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