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English Applied Linguistics / Linguistics, Multimodal Semiotics Ontology and Computational Linguistics, Universität Bremen
Where can meaning come from? Multimodal semiotics meets ontology
In this talk I offer an overview of some of the current theoretical accounts of meaning, and of different kinds of meaning, offered by the perspective of multimodal semiotics. This draws on the philosophical foundation developed by Charles Sanders Peirce as modified further by incorporating some of the generalised linguistic mechanisms developed in recent multimodality studies. Peirce placed particular importance on a particular kind of ‘iconicity’, that of a structural correlation of descriptions across different domains. Current work from a very different tradition, blending theory, is now bringing this form of iconicity back into focus in several areas. In particular, the application of blending in the area of formal ontology suggests a further round of potential formalisations for structural iconicity as a mechanism for constructing interpretations, that is, for assigning ‘meanings’ to phenomena. Crucial for such endeavors is the notion of ‘heterogeneous ontologies’, which I also introduce and motivate on the basis of our previous and ongoing work on ontology engineering. These strands are then brought together as a set of open research directions by which computational approaches to capturing meaning may be developed further.