Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 583–598

Reenactment: an embodied cognition approach to meaning and linguistic content


DOI: 10.1007/s11097-011-9229-8

Cite this article as:
Sandler, S. Phenom Cogn Sci (2012) 11: 583. doi:10.1007/s11097-011-9229-8


A central finding in experimental research identified with embodied cognition (EC) is that understanding actions involves their embodied simulation, i.e., executing some processes involved in performing these actions. Extending these findings, I argue that reenactment—the overt embodied simulation of actions and practices, including especially communicative actions and practices, within utterances—makes it possible to forge an integrated EC-based account of linguistic meaning. In particular, I argue: (a) that remote entities can be referred to by reenacting actions performed with them; (b) that the use of grammatical constructions can be conceived of as the reenactment of linguistic action routines; (c) that complex enunciational structures (reported speech, irony, etc.) involve a separate level of reenactment, on which characters are presented as interacting with one another within the utterance; (d) that the segmentation of long utterances into shorter units involves the reenactment of brief audience interventions between units; and (e) that the overall meaning of an utterance can be stated in reenactment terms. The notion of reenactment provides a conceptual framework for accounting for aspects of language that are usually thought to be outside the reach of EC in an EC framework, thus supporting a view of meaning and linguistic content as thoroughly grounded in action and interaction.


ActionCognitive linguisticsDialogEmbodied cognitionMeaningSimulation

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of English Language and LiteratureUniversity of HaifaHaifaIsrael
  2. 2.Beer-ShevaIsrael