Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-65dc7cd545-k2tdd Total loading time: 0.42 Render date: 2021-07-24T09:15:55.964Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

Effects of animacy and linguistic construction on the interpretation of spatial descriptions in English and Spanish

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 June 2019

JAVIER OLLOQUI-REDONDO
Affiliation:
Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain
THORA TENBRINK
Affiliation:
Bangor University, Wales, UK
ANOUSCHKA FOLTZ
Affiliation:
Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz, Austria
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

The languages of the world differ in their use of intrinsic, relative, and absolute reference frames to describe spatial relationships, but factors guiding reference frame choices are not yet well understood. This paper addresses the role of animacy and linguistic construction in reference frame choices in English and Spanish. During each trial of two experiments, adult participants saw a spatial scene along with a sentence describing the location of an object (locatum) relative to another object (relatum) that was animate or human(-like) to varying degrees. The scene presented two possible referents for the locatum, and participants decided which referent the description referred to, revealing which reference frame they used to interpret the sentence. Results showed that reference frame choices differed systematically between languages. In English, the non-possessive construction (X is to the left of Y) was consistently associated with the relative reference frame, and the possessive construction (X is on Y’s left) was associated with the intrinsic reference frame. In Spanish, the intrinsic interpretation was dominant throughout, except for the non-possessive construction with relata that were not anthropomorphic, animate, or human. We discuss the results with respect to the languages’ syntactic repertory, and the notion of inalienable possession.

Type
Article
Copyright
Copyright © UK Cognitive Linguistics Association 2019 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below.

Footnotes

*

We would like to thank the participants for taking part in our study and two anonymous reviewers and the editor for their helpful comments and suggestions. We would also like to thank Bodo Winter and Shravan Vashishth for helpful suggestions regarding the statistical analyses. Any remaining errors are of course our own.

References

Ameka, F. (1996). Body parts in Ewe grammar. In Chappell, H. and McGregor, W. (eds.), The grammar of inalienability: a typological perspective on body part terms and the part–whole relation (pp. 783840). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
Baayen, R. H. (2008). Analyzing linguistic data: a practical introduction to statistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Baguley, T. (2009). Standardized or simple effect size: What should be reported? British Journal of Psychology 100(3), 603617.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Barker, C. (1991). Possessive descriptions. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, UC Santa Cruz. UMI Dissertation Services.Google Scholar
Barr, D. J., Levy, R., Scheepers, C. & Tily, H. J. (2013). Random effects structure for confirmatory hypothesis testing: keep it maximal. Journal of Memory and Language 68(3), 255278.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Bateman, J. A., Hois, J., Ross, R. & Tenbrink, T. (2011). A linguistic ontology of space for natural language processing. Artificial Intelligence 174, 10271071.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bernárdez, E. (2016). Viaje lingüístico por el mundo: Iniciación a la tipología de las lenguas. Madrid: Alianza Editorial.Google Scholar
Bowerman, M. (1996). Learning how to structure space for language: a crosslinguistic perspective. In Bloom, P., Peterson, M. A., Nadel, L. & Garrett, M. F. (eds.), Language and space (pp. 385436). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Brown, P. & Levinson, S. C. (1993). ‘Uphill’ and ‘Downhill’ in Tzeltal. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 3, 4674.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Carlson, L. A. & Covell, E. (2005). Defining functional features for spatial language. In Carlson, L. & van der Zee, E. (eds.), Functional features in language and space: insights from perception, categorization, and development (pp. 175190). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Carroll, M. (1997). Changing place in English and German: language-specific preferences in the conceptualization of spatial relations. In Nuyts, J. & Pederson, E. (eds.), Language and conceptualization (pp. 137161). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chappell, H. & McGregor, W. (1989). Alienability, inalienability and nominal classification. In Proceedings of the Fifteenth Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society (1989) (pp. 2436). Online: doi:10.3765/bls.v15i0.1734.Google Scholar
Chappell, H. & McGregor, W. (1996). Prolegomena to a theory of inalienability. In Chappell, H. & McGregor, W. (eds.), The grammar of inalienability: a typological perspective on body part terms and the part–whole relation (pp. 330). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chappell, H. & Thompson, S. A. (1992). Semantics and pragmatics of associative de in Mandarin discourse. Cahiers de Linguistique Asie Orientale 21(2), 199229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dancygier, B. & Sweetser, E. (eds.) (2012). Viewpoint in language: a multimodal perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Danziger, E. (1996). Parts and their counterparts: spatial and social relationships in Mopan Maya. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 2(1), 6782.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Danziger, E. (1998). Introduction: language, space and culture. Ethos 26(1), 36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Danziger, E. (2011). Distinguishing three-dimensional forms from their mirror-images: Whorfian results from users of intrinsic frames of linguistic reference. Language Sciences, 33, 853867.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
De Vignemont, F. (2017). Agency and bodily ownership: the bodyguard hypothesis. In De Vignemont, F. & Alsmith, A. (eds.), The subject’s matter: self-consciousness and the body (pp. 217237). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Devylder, S. (2018). Diagrammatic iconicity explains asymmetries in Paamese possessive constructions. Cognitive Linguistics 29(2), 313348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Eggleston, A., Benedicto, E. & Balna, M. Y. (2011). Spatial frames of reference in Sumu-Mayangna. Language Sciences 33(6),10471072.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Feist, M. I. & Gentner, D. (2003). Factors involved in the use of in and on. Proceedings of the Twenty-Fifth Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 390395). Online <http://groups.psych.northwestern.edu/gentner/papers/FeistGentner03.pdf>.Google Scholar
Franklin, N. & Tversky, B. (1990). Searching imagined environments. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 119(1), 6376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gaby, A. (2012). The Thaayorre think of time like they talk of space. Frontiers in Psychology 3, 300. Online: doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00300CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Heine, B. (1997). Possession: cognitive source, forces and grammaticalization . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hernández-Green, N., Palancar, E. L. & Hernández, S. (2011). The loanword lado in Otomi spatial descriptions. Language Sciences 33(6), 961980.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Herrmann, T. & Grabowski, J. (1994). Sprechen: Psychologie der Sprachproduktion. Heidelberg: Spektrum.Google Scholar
Hund, A. M., Haney, K. H. & Seanor, B. D. (2008). The role of recipient perspective in giving and following wayfinding directions. Applied Cognitive Psychology 22(7), 896916.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jaeger, T. F. (2011). Corpus-based research on language production: information density and reducible subject relatives. In Bender, E. M. & Arnold, J. E. (eds.), Language from a cognitive perspective: grammar, usage, and processing. Studies in honor of Thomas Wasow (pp. 161198). Stanford, CA: CSLI Publications.Google Scholar
Johnson, P. C. (2014). Extension of Nakagawa & Schielzeth’s R2GLMM to random slopes models. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 5(9), 944946.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Keysar, B., Barr, D. J. & Horton, W. S. (1998). The egocentric basis of language use: insights from a processing approach. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 7(2), 4650.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kleiner, L. F. (2004). Review of the book Space in Language and Cognition: Explorations in Cognitive Diversity by S. Levinson. Journal of Pragmatics 36, 20892099.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kliffer, M. D. (1983). Beyond syntax: Spanish inalienable possession. Linguistics 21, 759794.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lamiroy, B. (2003). Grammaticalisation and external possessor structures in Romance and Germanic languages. In Coene, M. & D’Hulst, Y. (eds.), From NP to DP. Volume II: the expression of possession in noun phrases (pp. 257280). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Levelt, W. J. M. (1989). Speaking: from intention to articulation. Cambridge, MA.: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Levelt, W. J. M. (1996). Perspective taking and ellipsis in spatial descriptions. In Bloom, P., Peterson, M. A., Nadel, L. & Garret, M. (eds.), Language and space (pp. 77108). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Levinson, S. C. (1996). Frames of reference and Molyneux’s Question: crosslinguistic evidence. In Bloom, P., Peterson, M. A., Nadel, L. & l Garret, M. (eds.), Language and space (pp. 463492). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Levinson, S. C. (2003). Space in language and cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lichtenberk, F., Vaid, J. & Chen, H. (2011). On the interpretation of alienable vs. inalienable possession: a psycholinguistic investigation. Cognitive Linguistics 22(4), 659689.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
LópezG. , A. G. , A. (1998). Gramática del español. III. Las partes de la oración. Madrid: Arco/Libros.Google Scholar
Mathôt, S., Schreij, D. & Theeuwes, J. (2012). OpenSesame: an open-source, graphical experiment builder for the social sciences. Behavior Research Methods 44(2), 314324.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Meakins, F., Jones, C. & Algy, C. (2016). Bilingualism, language shift and the corresponding expansion of spatial cognitive systems. Language Sciences 54, 113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Miller, G. A. & Johnson-Laird, P. N. (1976). Language and perception. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Nakagawa, S., Johnson, P. C. & Schielzeth, H. (2017). The coefficient of determination R2 and intra-class correlation coefficient from generalized linear mixed-effects models revisited and expanded. Journal of the Royal Society Interface 14. Online: doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2017.0213CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Nakagawa, S. & Schielzeth, H. (2013). A general and simple method for obtaining R2 from generalized linear mixed-effects models. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 4(2), 133142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Nan, W., Li, Q., Sun, Y., Wang, H. & Liu, X. (2016). Conflict processing among multiple frames of reference. PsyCh Journal 5, 256262.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Nichols, J. (1992). Linguistic diversity in space and time. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Nieuwenhuijsen, D. (2008). La posesión inalienable en español y su traducción en varias lenguas germánicas y románicas: una comparación. Hermēneus. Revista de Traducción e Interpretación 10, 119.Google Scholar
O’Meara, C. (2011). Spatial frames of reference in Seri. Language Sciences 33, 10251046.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Peduzzi, P., Concato, J., Kemper, E., Holford, T. R. & Feinstein, A. R. (1996). A simulation study of the number of events per variable in logistic regression analysis. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology 49(12), 13731378.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Pérez-Báez, G. (2011). Spatial frames of reference preferences in Juchitán Zapotec. Language Sciences 33, 943960.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Polian, G. & Bohnemeyer, J., (2011). Uniformity and variation in Tseltal reference frame use. Language Sciences 33(6), 868891.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
R Core Team (2019). R: a language and environment for statistical computing. Vienna: R Foundation for Statistical Computing. Online <https://www.R-project.org/>..>Google Scholar
Robinette, L. E., Feist, M. I. & Kalish, M. L. (2010). Framed: factors influencing reference frame choice in tabletop space. In Ohlsson, S. & Catrambone, R. (eds.), Proceedings of the 32nd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 10641069). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.Google Scholar
Romero Méndez, R., (2011). Spatial frames of reference and topological descriptions in Ayutla Mixe. Language Sciences 33(6), 915942.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Romo Simón, F. (2016). Un estudio cognitivista de las preposiciones espaciales del español y su aplicación a la enseñanza de E/LE. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Retrieved from <https://ddd.uab.cat/pub/tesis/2016/hdl_10803_384719/frs1de1.pdf>.Google Scholar
Rosenbach, A. (2002). Genitive variation in English: conceptual factors in synchronic and diachronic studies. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rosenbach, A. (2008). Animacy and gramatical variation: findings from English genitive variation. Lingua 118, 151171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schober, M. F. (1998). Different kinds of conversational perspective-taking. In Fussell, S. R. & Kreuz, R. J. (eds.), Social and cognitive psychological approaches to interpersonal communication (pp. 145174). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
Surtees, A. D. R., Noordzij, M. L. & Apperly, I. A. (2012). Sometimes losing your self in space: children’s and adults’ spontaneous use of multiple spatial reference frames. Developmental Psychology 48, 185191.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Talmy, L. (2000). Toward a cognitive semantics (Vol 1, concept structuring systems). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Tenbrink, T. (2007). Space, time, and the use of language. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
Tenbrink, T. (2011). Reference frames of space and time in language. Journal of Pragmatics 43, 704722.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Torrego Salcedo, E. (1999). El Complemento Directo Preposicional. In Bosque, I. & Demonte, V. (eds.), Gramática Descriptiva de la Lengua Española (Vol. 2: Las construcciones sintácticas fundamentales. Relaciones temporales, aspectuales y modales) (pp. 17791806). Madrid: Espasa-Calpe.Google Scholar
Tosco, M. (2012). The grammar of space of Gawwada. In Brenzinger, M. & Fehn, A.-M. (eds.), Proceedings of the 6th World Congress of African Linguistics, Cologne (August 2009) (pp. 523532). Cologne: Rüdiger Köppe.Google Scholar
Tversky, B. (1996). Spatial perspective in descriptions. In Bloom, P., Peterson, M. A., Nadel, L. & Garret, M. (eds.), Language and space (pp. 463492). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Tversky, B. (2005). Form and function. In Carlson, L. & van der Zee, E. (eds.), Functional features in language and space: insights from perception, categorization, and development (pp. 331348). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Velázquez-Castillo, M. (1996). The grammar of possession: inalienability, incorporation and possessor ascension in Guaraní. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
von Wolff, A. (2001). Transformation und Inspektion mentaler Umraumrepräsentationen: Modell und Empirie. Vienna: GeoInfo Series.Google Scholar
Vorwerg, C. (2009). Consistency in successive spatial utterances. In Coventry, K., Tenbrink, T., & Bateman, J. (eds.), Spatial language and dialogue (pp. 4055). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Vorwerg, C. & Weiß, P. (2010). Verb semantics affects the interpretation of spatial prepositions. Spatial Cognition and Computation 10, 247291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Whorf, B. L. (1956). Language, thought, and reality. New York: Technology Press of MIT and Wiley.Google Scholar
Winter, B. & Wieling, M. (2016). How to analyze linguistic change using mixed models, Growth Curve Analysis and Generalized Additive Modeling. Journal of Language Evolution 1(1), 718.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Yamamoto, M. (1999). Animacy and reference: a cognitive approach to corpus linguistics. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Zlatev, J. (2007). Spatial semantics. In Geeraerts, D. & Cuyckens, H. (eds.), The Oxford handbook of cognitive linguistics (pp. 318350). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
1
Cited by

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Effects of animacy and linguistic construction on the interpretation of spatial descriptions in English and Spanish
Available formats
×

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Effects of animacy and linguistic construction on the interpretation of spatial descriptions in English and Spanish
Available formats
×

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Effects of animacy and linguistic construction on the interpretation of spatial descriptions in English and Spanish
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *