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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.


(A) Possible positions for the figure F in relation to the ground object G. (B) Directions of an oriented G (angular deviation from EGO's gaze direction).
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Figure 5: (A) Possible positions for the figure F in relation to the ground object G. (B) Directions of an oriented G (angular deviation from EGO's gaze direction).

Mentions: Three types of configurations were used, enabling us to elicit the full range of response options: F was either in line with V and G, or it was displaced from this line laterally by 90°, or diagonally by 45° or 135° (Figure 5A). These configurations differ in their requirements for responding according to a relative FoR and thus in their configurational complexity (see Grabowski, 1999b, pp. 360–361). If F is in line with V and G, the answer requires a FRONT/BACK assignment only (“low” complexity = 1). If F is displaced by 90°, the answer requires a LEFT/RIGHT assignment, which presupposes a FRONT/BACK assignment (“medium” complexity = 2). And if F is displaced by 45 or 135° in either direction, the answer requires both a FRONT/BACK and a LEFT/RIGHT assignment (“high” complexity = 3).


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)

(A) Possible positions for the figure F in relation to the ground object G. (B) Directions of an oriented G (angular deviation from EGO's gaze direction).
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

Figure 5: (A) Possible positions for the figure F in relation to the ground object G. (B) Directions of an oriented G (angular deviation from EGO's gaze direction).
Mentions: Three types of configurations were used, enabling us to elicit the full range of response options: F was either in line with V and G, or it was displaced from this line laterally by 90°, or diagonally by 45° or 135° (Figure 5A). These configurations differ in their requirements for responding according to a relative FoR and thus in their configurational complexity (see Grabowski, 1999b, pp. 360–361). If F is in line with V and G, the answer requires a FRONT/BACK assignment only (“low” complexity = 1). If F is displaced by 90°, the answer requires a LEFT/RIGHT assignment, which presupposes a FRONT/BACK assignment (“medium” complexity = 2). And if F is displaced by 45 or 135° in either direction, the answer requires both a FRONT/BACK and a LEFT/RIGHT assignment (“high” complexity = 3).

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.