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LINGUIST List 20.2216

Thu Jun 18 2009

Diss: Cognitive: Arik: 'Spatial Language: Insights from sign and...'

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        1.    Engin Arik, Spatial Language: Insights from sign and spoken languages

Message 1: Spatial Language: Insights from sign and spoken languages
Date: 16-Jun-2009
From: Engin Arik <earikpurdue.edu>
Subject: Spatial Language: Insights from sign and spoken languages
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Institution: Purdue University
Program: Linguistics Program
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2009

Author: Engin Arik

Dissertation Title: Spatial Language: Insights from sign and spoken languages

Dissertation URL: http://sites.google.com/site/enginarikweb/engin-arik---dissertation-abstrac

Linguistic Field(s): Cognitive Science

Dissertation Director:
Diane K. Brentari
Elaine J. Francis
Ronnie B. Wilbur
Dan Isaac Slobin
Myrdene Anderson

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation examined how sign and spoken languages represent space in
their linguistic systems by proposing the Crossmodal Spatial Language
Hypothesis (CSLH), which claims that the features from spatial input are
not necessarily mapped on the spatial descriptions regardless of modality
and language. Moreover, CSLH explains that the way languages convey spatial
relations is bound to the representational system: Spatial Representations
(SR), Reference Frames (RF), Temporal Representations (TR), Conceptual
Structure (CS), and Linguistic Representations (LR).

To test the hypothesis, a systematic study of spatial language (sign,
speech, and co-speech gestures) on the data obtained from experiments and
elicitation tasks was conducted in sign languages (TID, HZJ, ASL, and ÖGS)
and spoken languages (Turkish, English, and Croatian). The findings
uncovered a large amount of variation in the signed and spoken descriptions
of static situations and dynamic situations. Additionally, despite some
shared characteristics of the two domains, the analyses indicated that
space and time are encoded in SR and TR. The results provided supporting
evidence for CSLH.

The findings suggested that language users construct a spatial relation
between the objects in a given time, employ a reference frame, which may
not be encoded in the message, and use the same conceptual structure
comprised of BE-AT for static spatial situations and GO-BE-AT for static
dynamic situations. Experimental results also showed that language users do
not have to distinguish left/right from front/back, in/on from at, to from
toward, cause from go, and cause to move from cause to move together in
their descriptions. Interestingly, the descriptions involved go-type
predicates (go, walk) for both static and dynamic situations.

Further analyses revealed not only a modality effect (signers > speakers)
but also a language effect. Careful consideration of the data revealed that
there were similarities and differences within and across modalities.
Future study can shed more light on these variations and patterns.

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