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Keywords:

  • Symbolic;
  • Embodied;
  • Amodal;
  • Modal;
  • Perceptual simulations;
  • Symbol interdependency;
  • LSA;
  • Semantic knowledge

Abstract

Whether computational algorithms such as latent semantic analysis (LSA) can both extract meaning from language and advance theories of human cognition has become a topic of debate in cognitive science, whereby accounts of symbolic cognition and embodied cognition are often contrasted. Albeit for different reasons, in both accounts the importance of statistical regularities in linguistic surface structure tends to be underestimated. The current article gives an overview of the symbolic and embodied cognition accounts and shows how meaning induction attributed to a specific statistical process or to activation of embodied representations should be attributed to language itself. Specifically, the performance of LSA can be attributed to the linguistic surface structure, more than special characteristics of the algorithm, and embodiment findings attributed to perceptual simulations can be explained by distributional linguistic information.