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The grammar of exchange: a comparative study of reciprocal constructions across languages.

Majid A, Evans N, Gaby A, Levinson SC - Front Psychol (2011)

Bottom Line: Statistical analyses revealed that many languages do, in fact, share a common conceptual core for reciprocal meanings but that this is not a universally expressed concept.The recurrent pattern of conceptual packaging found across languages is compatible with the view that there is a shared non-linguistic understanding of reciprocation.But, nevertheless, there are considerable differences between languages in the exact extensional patterns, highlighting that even in the domain of grammar semantics is highly language-specific.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Language and Cognition Department, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics Nijmegen, Netherlands.

ABSTRACT
Cultures are built on social exchange. Most languages have dedicated grammatical machinery for expressing this. To demonstrate that statistical methods can also be applied to grammatical meaning, we here ask whether the underlying meanings of these grammatical constructions are based on shared common concepts. To explore this, we designed video stimuli of reciprocated actions (e.g., "giving to each other") and symmetrical states (e.g., "sitting next to each other"), and with the help of a team of linguists collected responses from 20 languages around the world. Statistical analyses revealed that many languages do, in fact, share a common conceptual core for reciprocal meanings but that this is not a universally expressed concept. The recurrent pattern of conceptual packaging found across languages is compatible with the view that there is a shared non-linguistic understanding of reciprocation. But, nevertheless, there are considerable differences between languages in the exact extensional patterns, highlighting that even in the domain of grammar semantics is highly language-specific.

No MeSH data available.


Cluster analysis of languages overall pattern of categorization of reciprocal events.
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Figure 4: Cluster analysis of languages overall pattern of categorization of reciprocal events.

Mentions: Another way of analyzing the same data is to use cluster analysis (see Figure 4), a technique that groups together items based on the amount of agreement. Each terminal node in the figure represents a language and nodes are grouped together based on similarity, which is directly reflected in the length of the lines before clusters join – short lines indicate more similarity, long lines less similarity. We find two main clusters – the first subsuming most of the languages in the sample, the second grouping Kilivila and Indo-Pakistani Sign Language. The first large cluster can be considered an “agreement” cluster – these languages all roughly agree about which clips should be encoded with a reciprocal construction.


The grammar of exchange: a comparative study of reciprocal constructions across languages.

Majid A, Evans N, Gaby A, Levinson SC - Front Psychol (2011)

Cluster analysis of languages overall pattern of categorization of reciprocal events.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3110972&req=5

Figure 4: Cluster analysis of languages overall pattern of categorization of reciprocal events.
Mentions: Another way of analyzing the same data is to use cluster analysis (see Figure 4), a technique that groups together items based on the amount of agreement. Each terminal node in the figure represents a language and nodes are grouped together based on similarity, which is directly reflected in the length of the lines before clusters join – short lines indicate more similarity, long lines less similarity. We find two main clusters – the first subsuming most of the languages in the sample, the second grouping Kilivila and Indo-Pakistani Sign Language. The first large cluster can be considered an “agreement” cluster – these languages all roughly agree about which clips should be encoded with a reciprocal construction.

Bottom Line: Statistical analyses revealed that many languages do, in fact, share a common conceptual core for reciprocal meanings but that this is not a universally expressed concept.The recurrent pattern of conceptual packaging found across languages is compatible with the view that there is a shared non-linguistic understanding of reciprocation.But, nevertheless, there are considerable differences between languages in the exact extensional patterns, highlighting that even in the domain of grammar semantics is highly language-specific.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Language and Cognition Department, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics Nijmegen, Netherlands.

ABSTRACT
Cultures are built on social exchange. Most languages have dedicated grammatical machinery for expressing this. To demonstrate that statistical methods can also be applied to grammatical meaning, we here ask whether the underlying meanings of these grammatical constructions are based on shared common concepts. To explore this, we designed video stimuli of reciprocated actions (e.g., "giving to each other") and symmetrical states (e.g., "sitting next to each other"), and with the help of a team of linguists collected responses from 20 languages around the world. Statistical analyses revealed that many languages do, in fact, share a common conceptual core for reciprocal meanings but that this is not a universally expressed concept. The recurrent pattern of conceptual packaging found across languages is compatible with the view that there is a shared non-linguistic understanding of reciprocation. But, nevertheless, there are considerable differences between languages in the exact extensional patterns, highlighting that even in the domain of grammar semantics is highly language-specific.

No MeSH data available.