LINGUIST List 13.3413

Mon Dec 23 2002

Confs: Linguistic Systems and Cognitive Categories

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  1. robert, Linguistic Systems and Cognitive Categories, Paris France

Message 1: Linguistic Systems and Cognitive Categories, Paris France

Date: Sat, 21 Dec 2002 10:02:54 +0000
From: robert <robertvjf.cnrs.fr>
Subject: Linguistic Systems and Cognitive Categories, Paris France


Space in Languages : Linguistic Systems and Cognitive Categories

Short Title: Space in Languages
Location: Paris, France
Date: 07-Feb-2003 - 08-Feb-2003 

Contact Person: Stephane Robert
Meeting Email: secretariat.tulivry.cnrs.fr

Linguistic Subfield(s): 
Typology, Psycholinguistics, General Linguistics, Cognitive Science

Meeting Description: 

Space has been often viewed as a universal cognitive primitive, an 'a
priori form of intuition' that conditions all of our
experience. However, various studies show that linguistic and cultural
systems determine - at least partially - the nature and cognitive
accessibility of the information selected by speakers, thereby casting
some doubts on the supposedly universal properties of the category of
space. This evidence then raises questions concerning the impact of
linguistic categorization on perception, as well as the existence of a
single (a-modal) system or of two distinct (linguistic vs. perceptual
and motor) systems of spatial representations. First, how is space
encoded across languages and to what extent does space, as it is
linguistically encoded, reflect forms of perceptual experience and
which aspects of this experience do languages encode? Does space
constitute a pure and primitive category from which other linguistic
meanings are then derived ? The study of space can then be reframed
in terms of several fundamental questions, that will be addressed
during this conference from the point of view of linguistics
(typology, diachrony, sign-language), cognitive anthropology, the
philosophy of language, psycholinguistics, and neurosciences. As
illustrated by the Kantian tradition and by a number of cognitive
theories, space has been often viewed as a universal cognitive
primitive, an 'a priori form of intuition' that conditions all of our
experience. From this point of view, it is of particular interest to
study the linguistic expression of space, since languages seem to
capture and to make explicit the constraints of experience on the
construction of spatial reference. At the same time, language confers
to spatial representations the property of referential
'detachability', that distinguishes these representations from those
that are produced by the perceptual experience of space. This
fundamental property of language allows speakers to dissociate and to
choose among different components of spatial reference, as well as to
use spatial morphemes to express other and/or more abstract meanings,
such as temporal, causal or argumentative relations.

A question then arises concerning the primitive and generative nature
of the category of space in languages. To what extent does space, as
it is linguistically encoded, reflect forms of perceptual experience
and which aspects of this experience do languages encode? Does space
constitute a pure and primitive category from which other linguistic
meanings are then derived? This question has been raised by cognitive
grammars in general and by metaphor theory in particular. It is also
particularly relevant in the light of numerous derivations that can be
observed in the history of languages, often indicating that a given
term evolves from a concrete spatial meaning to an abstract discourse
one. What are then the cognitive mechanisms that allow these
transitions? Inversely, some recent linguistic analyses argue that
spatial values are neither basic nor even purely spatial, but rather
that spatial terms always carry other values, for example related to
the functional properties of objects, their force or resistance, or
the goals towards which speakers construct spatial relations in their
utterances. According to this conception, space in language is
therefore not a primitive category, but already the result of some
construction. What types of evidence can be brought to bear on these
different conceptions?

Furthermore, in the last twenty years, many studies in linguistics,
psycholinguistics, and cultural anthropology have revealed the
existence of rather varied spatial systems across languages and
cultures. These variations concern, for example, the nature of the
linguistic devices expressing spatial information (e.g. verbs,
affixes, classifiers, particles), the particular distinctions they
encode, and the reference systems that are used by speakers (absolute,
egocentric, relative). In addition, various studies show that
linguistic and cultural systems determine - at least partially - the
nature and cognitive accessibility of the information selected by
speakers, thereby casting some doubts on the supposedly universal
properties of the category of space. This evidence then raises
questions concerning the impact of linguistic categorization on
perception, as well as the existence of a single (a-modal) system or
of two distinct (linguistic vs. perceptual and motor) systems of
spatial representations.

The study of space can then be reframed in terms of several
fundamental questions, that will be addressed during this conference
from the point of view of linguistics (typology, diachrony,
sign-language), cognitive anthropology, the philosophy of language,
psycholinguistics, and neurosciences.

List of participants and papers to be presented

The precise program will be announced in January

Melissa Bowerman (Max-Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen)
Constructing language-specific spatial categories in first language
acquisition

Pierre Cadiot (Universite de Paris 8, Laboratoire LATTICE) & Franck
Lebas (Universite Clermont-Ferrand 2)
The French movement verb MONTER as a challenge to the status of
spatial reference

Denis Creissels (Laboratoire Dynamique du Langage, Universite Lyon 2)
Encoding the distinction between localization, source of a movement
and direction of a movement : a typological study

Michel Denis (LIMSI, Orsay)
Deficits in spatial discourse: the case of Alzheimer patients

Jerome Dokic & Elisabeth Pacherie (Institut Jean Nicod, EHESS Paris)
Molyneux's question and frames of reference

Colette Grinevald (Laboratoire Dynamique du Langage, Universite Lyon
2)
The expression of static location in a typological perspective

Maya Hickmann (Laboratoire Cognition et Developpement, Universite de
Paris 5)
The relativity of motion in first language acquisition

Anetta Kopecka (Laboratoire Dynamique du Langage, Universite Lyon 2)
The semantic structure of prefixed motion verbs in French: typological
perspectives

Barbara Landau (Department of Cognitive Science, Johns Hopkins
University, Baltimore)
(De)Coupling of spatial language and spatial cognition

Alain Peyraube (Centre de Recherche sur les Langues d'Asie Orientale,
Paris)
On the history of place words and localizers in Chinese : a cognitive
approach

Marie-Anne Sallandre (Universite Paris 8)
Iconicity in discourse, the role of space in French sign language

Chris Sinha (Department of Psychology, University of Portsmouth)
Mapping and construal in spatial language and conceptualization:
language variation and acquisition.

Dan Slobin (Department of Psychology University of California,
Berkeley)
What makes manner of motion salient ?

Claude Vandeloise (State University of Louisiana, Baton Rouge)
Are there spatial prepositions ?

Yves-Marie Visetti (Laboratoire LATTICE, ENS Paris)
Semantics and its models of perception and action


Organizing committee
Maya Hickmann
Stephane Robert
Yves-Marie Visetti
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