Mirjam Sigmund

Proceedings opened: 20 March 2017

Dissertation colloquium: 26 September 2017

Title: "Die Allegorese als diskurstraditionelles Ambiguierungsverfahren. Eine kognitiv-semantische Analyse romanischer Predigten des 12. und 13. Jahrhunderts"


Biographical information

  • 2004-2010: studied Italianistics, Latinistics and Protestant Theology in Göttingen and Tübingen
  • 2007/08: Assistant teacher in Foggia (Italy), taught German at the Liceo Scientifico Marconi and the Liceo Scientifico Volta
  • 2010-2011: Student Research Assistant at SFB 833, project C4 „Phenomena of Ambiguity in the Diachrony of Romance Languages: Verbs and Participants“
  • 2011-2012: Editorial Assistant for Theology and Jewish Studies with the Mohr Siebeck Verlag, Tübingen
  • December 2012-December 2016: Recipient of a PhD scholarship by Evangelisches Studienwerk Villigst
  • Since October 2013: Associate member of the GRK 1808: Ambiguity - Production and Perception
  • Since November 2016: Research Assistant at the Department of Romance Languages, Trier University


Research interests

  • Cognitive Semantics
  • Medieval Semiotics
  • Early Romance sermons and bestiaries



Ambiguity and the ,Language of Things‘: The Spiritual Sense of the Scripture and Cognitive Semantics in Medieval Romance Texts (working title)

This research project examines the ambiguity which underlies the medieval spiritual exegesis of the Scripture and of the world, taking as examples Romance sermons and bestiaries, i.e. moralizing descriptions of animals of the 12th/13th century. This theory is described by Augustine in his doctrine of signs in De doctrina christiana. According to him, a verbum as a sign-carrier refers to a certain res. For instance, the verbum ,leo‘ is linked to the res LION, a lion in the non-verbal reality. Spiritual exegesis of the Scripture is effected if the interpreter perceives an ambiguity in the res: The res itself can – beside its function as simple res 1 – become a sign-carrier for one or several res 2, 3 etc. In this way, the res 1 LION can refer to further res as the DEVIL (res 2) or CHRIST (res 3). All res to which res 1 refers are to be located in the frame of the Christian history of salvation.

From a cognitive semantic point of view, an analysis of the leading principles of association in case of combining different res or rather concepts is necessary. The combination between different concepts normally does not occur arbitrarily, but it relies on associative relationships such as similarity, contiguity etc. In many cases, there is a leading relation of similarity between the two concepts – as for example in the common transfer LION – CHRIST: both come from above, Christ from heaven and the lion from the mountain, as it is frequently mentioned in medieval bestiaries. However, there are also more complex cases of combination, especially in the sermons. Against this background, the transfer of meaning determined by factors as genre, communication situation and the religious context has to be analysed.



  • 21.12.2011: „Der mehrfache Schriftsinn und die kognitive Semantik in mittelalterlichen Texten“, Linguistic Oberseminar at the Institute of Romance Languages, Universität Tübingen
  • 30.01.2013: „Die ,Sprache der Dinge‘ in Texten des romanischen Mittelalters“, Linguistic Oberseminar at the Institute of Romance Language, Universität Tübingen
  • 09.01.2014: „Strategische Rezeption von Ambiguität“ (withSophia Kuhs), Paper ath im Oberseminar „Ambiguity“ Institute of English Literature and Linguistics, Universität Tübingen
  • 08.02.2015: "Strategische Ambiguität bei Maurice de Sully am Beispiel der Todesdeutung in Sermo 38" (with Nikolai Kohler), Paper at the Graduiertentag „Ambiguität und Strategie” of the RTG 1808, Blaubeuren
  • 15.07.2015: „Allegorese in romanischen Predigten des 12. und 13. Jahrhunderts“, Paper at the Oberseminar „Aktuelle Themen der romanischen Sprachwissenschaft“ at the Institute for Romance Languages, Universität Tübingen
  • 26.10.2016: „Allegorese als diskurstraditionelles Ambiguierungsverfahren. Eine kognitiv-semantische Analyse romanischer Predigten des 12. und 13. Jahrhunderts“, Colloquium „Aktuelle Themen und Methoden der Sprachwissenschaft“ of the Institute of Romance Languages, Universität Trier





  • Winter term 2011/12 und 2013/14
    • PS I: Einführung in die italienische Sprachwissenschaft, Universität Tübingen
  • Summer term 2012
    • PS II: Vom Vulgärlatein zum Italienischen, Universität Tübingen
  • Summer term 2013-2016
    • Übung: Latein für Romanisten II. Sprachlich-linguistischer Kursteil, Universität Tübingen
  • Winter Term 2016-2017
    • Seminar: La lingua italiana - dalle Tre Corone all’era di internet, Universität Trier