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Article

Discourse of the inexplicable: Verbal representation of interoceptive sensations

International Journal of Arts and Sciences. 2013. Vol. 6. No. 1. P. 171-185.

Interoceptive, or inner-body, sensations are an innovative and highly promising line of research in contemporary language studies. First identified by physiologists more than a century ago, interoception has traversed its original academic boundaries to gain the status of an interdisciplinary subject whose investigation requires combined efforts on the part of psychologists, neurologists, cultural anthropologists and cognitivists, to name just a few. Its problematization in Linguistics was prompted by the fact that interoceptive sensations are inseparably connected with language.  Belonging to the subjective sphere of the individual  and concealed from the outside observer, they can only be effectively externalized through verbal representation. Our nominative abilities, however, are seriously challenged when it comes to verbalizing our inner-body sensations. Vague and transient, lacking in substance and uncontrollable, exclusively personal and unverifiable, interoceptive sensations demonstrate a considerable resistance to language. Articulating your inner-body experience is virtually expressing the inexplicable, trying to delineate the shapeless, to share something that is principally unshareable. Balancing between the perceived unshareability of our inner-body experience and the need to convey it in a comprehensible form we have to seek reasonable compromises between the uniqueness of each sensation and the need to comply with the existing cultural and language conventions. The goal of the current research consists in revealing the main cognitive mechanisms that are enacted in objectifying interoceptive phenomena and to discuss the verbal strategies we resort to when communicating our inner-body experience.