Emozioni in segni: il caso della LIS

  • Chiara Bonsignori
  • Morgana Proietti
Keywords: Sign language, Embodiment, LIS, Metaphors, Emotions


Theories related to embodied cognition show the important role of body experiences in human cognitive processes (Caruana, Borghi 2016, Clark 1997, Gallagher 2005, Smith 2005, Varela et al. 1991). Sign languages are a special window in exploring the route from perception to concept construction, as they allow to visualize linguistic embodiment of perceptual experiences (Volterra et al. 2018, Wilcox, Xavier, 2013). Iconicity shows a resemblance of semantic and phonological structures, revealing a common conceptual space grounded in cognitive abilities of language users and connected to their world perception and interaction. Different studies highlight the presence of visual metaphors in signs supporting the importance of embodiment and perception of the surrounding world in the construction of meanings (Boyes Braem 1981, Pietrandrea 2002, Russo 2004).
The aim of this study is to investigate linguistic representations of emotions in Italian sign language (LIS) focusing on visual metaphors subsumed at the sublexical level. For the present study, we analyzed the handshapes, movement and location of 70 signs related to emotion. Due to this analysis we identified metaphors grounded in parameters’ features (ex: the chest is the container of emotions; the down movement is mostly present in negative signs).
Identified visual metaphors reveal the importance of the body in world perception and in the process of building meaning.
Improvements in cognitive approaches to language may need to pass through an investigation of the tight metaphorical relation between form and meaning in signed emotion-related lexicon.


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How to Cite
Bonsignori, C. and Proietti, M. (2020) “Emozioni in segni: il caso della LIS”, Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio. doi: 10.4396/SFL2019ES03.
Emotions and meaning