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Turn around to have a look? Spatial referencing in dorsal vs. frontal settings in cross-linguistic comparison.

Beller S, Singmann H, Hüther L, Bender A - Front Psychol (2015)

Bottom Line: Substantial differences in frontal settings, both between and within languages, disprove the Canonical Encounter Hypothesis-translation occurs as frequently as reflection across samples.We suggest that this response is produced by a backward projection of the observer's coordinate system in correspondence with the two main FoR preferences for frontal settings.However, none of these strategies involves a turn of the observer, thus also disproving the Turn Hypothesis.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychosocial Science, University of Bergen Bergen, Norway.

ABSTRACT
When referring to an object in relation to another, speakers of many languages can adopt a relative frame of reference (FoR). Following Levinson (2003), this kind of FoR can be established by projecting an observer's perspective onto the ground object either by translation, reflection, or rotation. So far, research on spatial FoRs has largely ignored the extent of variation in which of these projections are preferred generally, and specifically what kind of FoR is established for spatial arrays in one's back. This may seem justified by assumptions on "natural" preferences: for reflection in frontal settings (Canonical Encounter Hypothesis), and for converting dorsal into frontal situations by a turn of the observer before a reference is made (Turn Hypothesis). We scrutinize these assumptions by comparing the FoRs adopted for small-scale, static spatial arrays by speakers of four languages (German, US-English, Mandarin Chinese, and Tongan). Addressing the problem of inherent ambiguities on the item level when assessing FoRs from spatial prepositions, we use a multinomial processing tree (MPT) model for estimating probabilities of referencing strategies across sets of items. Substantial differences in frontal settings, both between and within languages, disprove the Canonical Encounter Hypothesis-translation occurs as frequently as reflection across samples. In dorsal settings, in contrast, the same type of response dominates in all samples. We suggest that this response is produced by a backward projection of the observer's coordinate system in correspondence with the two main FoR preferences for frontal settings. However, none of these strategies involves a turn of the observer, thus also disproving the Turn Hypothesis. In conclusion, we discuss possible causes of the observed variability, explore links between the domains of space and time, and reflect the relation between language, communication, and culture.

No MeSH data available.


Four example items.
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Figure 4: Four example items.

Mentions: Twelve analogous configurations were used in each condition: six with an oriented ground object (three depicting inanimate objects, three depicting living beings) and six with a non-oriented ground object (again three depicting inanimate objects and three depicting living beings). Participants were asked to indicate the relation between figure F and ground object G from the viewpoint V of the depicted observer by choosing one of eight options: in front of, behind, to the left of, to the right of, in front and to the left of, in front and to the right of, behind and to the left of, and behind and to the right of. A selection of items is presented in Figure 4. The instructions and the complete set of items are provided for each of the four languages in the Supplementary Material (Sections 1 and 2).


Turn around to have a look? Spatial referencing in dorsal vs. frontal settings in cross-linguistic comparison.

Beller S, Singmann H, Hüther L, Bender A - Front Psychol (2015)

Four example items.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4556973&req=5

Figure 4: Four example items.
Mentions: Twelve analogous configurations were used in each condition: six with an oriented ground object (three depicting inanimate objects, three depicting living beings) and six with a non-oriented ground object (again three depicting inanimate objects and three depicting living beings). Participants were asked to indicate the relation between figure F and ground object G from the viewpoint V of the depicted observer by choosing one of eight options: in front of, behind, to the left of, to the right of, in front and to the left of, in front and to the right of, behind and to the left of, and behind and to the right of. A selection of items is presented in Figure 4. The instructions and the complete set of items are provided for each of the four languages in the Supplementary Material (Sections 1 and 2).

Bottom Line: Substantial differences in frontal settings, both between and within languages, disprove the Canonical Encounter Hypothesis-translation occurs as frequently as reflection across samples.We suggest that this response is produced by a backward projection of the observer's coordinate system in correspondence with the two main FoR preferences for frontal settings.However, none of these strategies involves a turn of the observer, thus also disproving the Turn Hypothesis.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychosocial Science, University of Bergen Bergen, Norway.

ABSTRACT
When referring to an object in relation to another, speakers of many languages can adopt a relative frame of reference (FoR). Following Levinson (2003), this kind of FoR can be established by projecting an observer's perspective onto the ground object either by translation, reflection, or rotation. So far, research on spatial FoRs has largely ignored the extent of variation in which of these projections are preferred generally, and specifically what kind of FoR is established for spatial arrays in one's back. This may seem justified by assumptions on "natural" preferences: for reflection in frontal settings (Canonical Encounter Hypothesis), and for converting dorsal into frontal situations by a turn of the observer before a reference is made (Turn Hypothesis). We scrutinize these assumptions by comparing the FoRs adopted for small-scale, static spatial arrays by speakers of four languages (German, US-English, Mandarin Chinese, and Tongan). Addressing the problem of inherent ambiguities on the item level when assessing FoRs from spatial prepositions, we use a multinomial processing tree (MPT) model for estimating probabilities of referencing strategies across sets of items. Substantial differences in frontal settings, both between and within languages, disprove the Canonical Encounter Hypothesis-translation occurs as frequently as reflection across samples. In dorsal settings, in contrast, the same type of response dominates in all samples. We suggest that this response is produced by a backward projection of the observer's coordinate system in correspondence with the two main FoR preferences for frontal settings. However, none of these strategies involves a turn of the observer, thus also disproving the Turn Hypothesis. In conclusion, we discuss possible causes of the observed variability, explore links between the domains of space and time, and reflect the relation between language, communication, and culture.

No MeSH data available.