dr. A. (Alan) Cienki

This page has been moved. You are being redirected.

Associate Professor

Office hours:
Please contact me by e-mail to schedule an appointment

Curriculum Vitae

Areas of specialization

Cognitive linguistics, pragmatics, spoken language, gesture, political discourse, contrastive linguistics.


In connection with the NIAS fellowship that I have been awarded, I am released from teaching in the department from September 2009 through June 2010.

BA, English language and culture

  • Talk, talkers, talking
  • Writing and translation
  • Discourse analysis
  • Specialist option: Interaction

MA, English language and culture (Linguistics track: Language in interaction)

  • Language and interaction
  • Metaphor in communication
  • Metaphor in cognition

Other courses for MA and PhD students

  • ‘Conceptual metaphor theory’ (1995-2005), ‘Language and thought’ (2004) and ‘Research design’ (2005) at the Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts, Emory University, Atlanta, USA.
  • ‘Gesture and cognition’ co-taught with C. Müller, March 2007, Institut for Sprog og Kommunikation, Syddansk Universitet, Odense, Denmark.
  • ‘Gesture and simulation semantics’ co-taught with B. Bergen, July 2008, Empirical Methods in Cognitive Linguistics/EMCL4, Odense, Denmark.

Current PhD advising

  • Bertie Kaal, Vrije Universiteit: ‘Positions in political texts: Integrating Cognitive linguistic, Critical discourse and Corpus linguistic analyses (CCC)’ (advisor:  Prof. P. Vossen) (2009-present)
  • Stefan Rook, Freie Universität (Berlin), “Metaphors in football discourse” (co-advisor with Prof. C. Müller)

Current PhD committee membership
PhD students in the VU research program ‘Metaphor in discourse’ (advisor: Prof. G.J. Steen) (2008-present)

  • Lettie Dorst: ‘Metaphor in fiction’
  • Berenike Herrmann: ‘Metaphor in academic discourse’
  • Anna Kaal: ‘Metaphor in conversation’
  • Tina Krennmayr: ‘Metaphors in news discourse’

PhD students in the VU research program ‘From text to political positions’ (2009-present)

  • Isa Maks (advisor: Prof. P. Vossen)
  • Annemarie van Elfrinkhof (advisor: Prof. L. Hooghe)


Research interests

  • Cognitive linguistics (metaphor, metonymy, image schemas, mental spaces and conceptual integration, cognitive/cultural models, framing, cognitive grammar) Semantics and pragmatics
  • Spoken language and thought (thinking for speaking)
  • Gesture with speech
  • Political discourse and the use of metaphor and gesture
  • Methods in cognitive linguistic research
  • Comparative linguistics, primarily Germanic and Slavic languages

Membership in research groups

  • ‘The Empathy Network’ of the project ‘Living with Uncertainty: Metaphor and the Dynamics of Empathy in Discourse’, Lynne Cameron (PI), Open University, UK (2009-2012).
  • ‘From text to political position’, with Piek Vossen, Liesbet Hooghe and André Krouwel, with three PhD students (Isa Maks, Bertie Kaal, and Annemarie van Elfrinkhof), financed by the VU interfaculty research institute CAMeRA, Center for Advanced Media Research Amsterdam (2008-present).
  • Faculty research program Language, Cognition and Communication (2008-present).
  • Spatial Network of the Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center (SILC) (2008-present).
  • ‘Sensegiving in SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises)’, group with Prof. Joep Cornelissen and Dr. Jean Clarke (Leeds University Business School, UK) researching the communication (spoken language and gesture) of entrepreneurs (2007-present)

For the academic year 2009/2010 I received a fellowship from the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIAS) in order to work on a book on how research on gesture relates to cognitive linguistic theory.



  • Müller, C., E. Fricke, A. Cienki, & D. McNeill (eds.). In preparation. Körper–Sprache–Kommunikation / Body–Language–Communication.  2 vols.  For the series Handbücher zur Sprach- und Kommunikationswissenschaft.  Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Cienki, A., & C. Müller (eds.). 2008. Metaphor and Gesture. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Cienki, A., B. Luka, & M. Smith (eds.). 2001. Conceptual and Discourse Factors in Linguistic Structure, Stanford, CA:  Center for the Study of Language and Information (CSLI).
  • Cienki, A. 1989. Spatial Cognition and the Semantics of Prepositions in English, Polish, and Russian, in the series Slavistische Beiträge  Vol. 237.  Munich: Sagner Verlag.

Articles and book chapters

In press 

  • Cienki, A. Gesture and (cognitive) linguistic theory. In Rosario Caballero (ed.), Proceedings of the XXVII AESLA International Conference ‘Ways and Modes of Human Communication’. Ciudad Real, Spanje: Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha.
  • Cienki, A. Multi-modal metaphor analysis. In Lynne Cameron (ed.), Metaphor Analysis: Research Practice in Applied Linguistics, Social Sciences and the Humanities. London: Equinox.
  • Cornelissen, J., J. Clarke, & A. Cienki. Sensegiving in entrepreneurial contexts: The use of metaphors in speech and gesture to gain and sustain support for novel business ventures.International Small Business Journal.


  • Cienki, A. 2009. Mental space builders in speech and in co-speech gesture. In E. Jarmołowicz-Nowikow, K. Juszczyk, Z. Malisz, & M. Szczyszek (eds.), GESPIN: Gesture and speech in interaction [CD-ROM].
  • Müller, C., & A. Cienki. 2009. Words, gestures, and beyond: Forms of multimodal metaphor in the use of spoken language. In Charles Forceville & Eduardo Urios-Aparisi (eds.),  Multimodal Metaphor. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 297-328.


  • Cienki, A. 2008. Frames, idealized cognitive models, domains. In The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics, D. Geeraerts & H. Cuyckens (eds.).  Oxford: Oxford University Press, 170-187.
  • Cienki, A. 2008. Why study metaphor and gesture? In Metaphor and Gesture, A. Cienki & C. Müller (eds.). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 5-25.
  • Cienki, A. 2008. The application of conceptual metaphor theory to political discourse: Methodological questions and some possible solutions. In Political Language and Metaphor: Interpreting and Changing the World, T. Carver & J. Pikalo (eds.).  London/New York: Routledge, 241-256.
  • Cienki, A. 2008. Looking at analyses of mental spaces and blending / Looking at and experiencing discourse in interaction. In Mental Spaces in Discourse and Interaction, T. Oakley & A. Hougaard (eds.). Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 235-245.
  • Cienki, A., & C. Müller. 2008. Metaphor, gesture, and thought. In The Cambridge Handbook of Metaphor and Thought, R. W. Gibbs, Jr. (ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 483-501.


  • Pragglejaz Group. 2007. MIP: A method for identifying metaphorically used words in discourse. Metaphor and Symbol 22: 1-39.

Complete list of publications

Other professional activities

Editorial boards

Executive committee

  • Researching and Applying Metaphor International Association (RaAM) (2006-present)
  • Language, Culture, Mind (LCM) international conference committee (2008-present)
  • Belgium-Netherlands Cognitive Linguistics Association (BeNeCLA) (2008-present)

Scientific/Program committees for recent conferences

  • International Society for Gesture Studies / ISGS 4 (Frankfurt/Oder, Germany, July 2010)
  • Language, Culture and Mind / LCM 4 (Turku, Finland, June 2010)
  • Spanish Association for Applied Linguistics International Conference / AESLA 27 (Ciudad Real, Spain, March 2009)

Organization of conferences

  • Researching and Applying Metaphor 8 (RaAM8), chairing organizing committee with Gerard Steen, Vrije Universiteit, 30 June - 3 July 2010.
  • Workshop ‘From Text to Political Positions 2010’ (T2PP), organized with P. Vossen, A. Krouwel, A.R. Kaal, E. Maks en A. v. Elfrinkhof Vrije Universiteit, 9-10 April 2010.
  • RaAM workshop ‘Metaphor, Metonymy & Multimodality’, organized with Charles Forceville and Irene Mittelberg. University of Amsterdam, 4-5 June 2009.
  • Fourth conference on Conceptual Structure, Discourse, and Language (CSDL-4), Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, 10-12 October 1998.


Recent reviewer of manuscripts for: Cambridge University Press, John Benjamins Publishing Co., Mouton de Gruyter, University of Chicago Press, and the journals Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, Annual Review of Cognitive Linguistics, CogniTextes, Cognitive Linguistics, Cognitive Science, English for Special Purposes, Gesture, Journal of Pragmatics, Linguistics, Metaphor and Symbol, Organization Studies, Political Communication, Scando-Slavica, Text and Talk.

Recent invited lectures and workshops:

  • Bangor, Wales, UK, guest lecture for the Linguistics Department, Bangor University (December 2009)
  • Amsterdam, NL, plenary lecture and workshop for RaAM Workshop ‘Metaphor, Metonymy & Multimodality’ (June 2009)
  • Paris, France, AFLiCo 3 panel ‘Grammatical integration and multimodality’ (May 2009)
  • Ciudad Real, Spain, 27th AESLA Conference, ‘Ways and forms of human communication’ (March 2009)
  • New York, USA, International Studies Association convention panel ‘Metaphors, blends, and concepts for studying the political’ (Feb. 2009)
  • Rotterdam, NL, colloquium ‘Mind the body: Grounding conceptual knowledge in perception and action’ (Feb. 2009)
  • Leiden, NL, 6th Semantics in the Netherlands Day (SiN-Dag) (Oct. 2008)
  • Brussels, Belgium, with Irene Mittelberg, symposium ‘The agile mind: Creativity in discourse and art’ (Sept. 2008)

Recent conference talks:

  • Poznań, Polen (Gesture and Speech in Interaction/GESPIN, 2009)
  • Lisbon, Portugal (European Consortium for Political Research joint sessions, 2009)
  • Leiden, NL (CogLingDagen 3, 2008)
  • Cleveland, Ohio, USA (Conceptual Structure, Discourse, and Language 9, 2008)
  • Leipzig, Germany (Deutsche Gesellshaft für Kognitieve Linguistik 3, 2008)
  • Brighton, UK (Language, Communication, and Cognition, 2008)
  • Odense, Denmark (Language, Culture, and Mind 3, 2008)
  • Cáceres, Spain (Researching and Applying Metaphor 7, 2008)