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Toward a theory of semantic representation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 March 2014

Gabriella Vigliocco*
University College London
Lotte Meteyard
University College London
Mark Andrews
University College London
Stavroula Kousta
University College London
Correspondence addresses: Gabriella Vigliocco, Cognitive, Perceptual and Brain Sciences Research Department, Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, University College London, 26 Bedford Way, London, WC1H OAP, UK. E-mail:


We present an account of semantic representation that focuses on distinct types of information from which word meanings can be learned. In particular, we argue that there are at least two major types of information from which we learn word meanings. The first is what we call experiential information. This is data derived both from our sensory-motor interactions with the outside world, as well as from our experience of own inner states, particularly our emotions. The second type of information is language-based. In particular, it is derived from the general linguistic context in which words appear. The paper spells out this proposal, summarizes research supporting this view and presents new predictions emerging from this framework.

Research Article
Copyright © UK Cognitive Linguistics Association 2009

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