LINGUIST List 5.769

Sat 02 Jul 1994

Confs: Language & Space workshop

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  1. "Cuyckens Hubert", Language & Space workshop

Message 1: Language & Space workshop

Date: Thu, 30 Jun 1994 20:05:00 Language & Space workshop
From: "Cuyckens Hubert" <>
Subject: Language & Space workshop

 JULY 24, 1994
 MODERATOR: Hubert Cuyckens

In the various disciplines of cognitive science, the past few years have seen
a surging interest in the relation between LANGUAGE and SPACE. For one thing,
it has been assumed that, in tackling the relation between language and
cognition, it would be easier to start with the spatial domain. Furthermore,
spatial knowledge has been claimed to take up a privileged position in
cognition in that "we typically conceptualize the nonphysical in terms of the
physical" [Lakoff & Johnson, Metaphors we live by, p. 59]. In cognitive
linguistics, for instance, spatial knowledge is often analyzed as the source
domain of many linguistic expression.
This workshop brings together a number of papers highlighting the relation
between language and spatial cognition from different angles.

 JULY 24, 1994

 8:50 - 9:00 Welcome and Introduction

 9:00 - 9:40 M.M. Jocelyne Fernandez-Vest (CNRS, Paris)
 Spatial cognition and the organization of discourse --
 evidence from the Sami language (Lapland)
 9:45 - 10:35 Alan Cienki (Emory University)
 STRAIGHT and CURVED as image schemas

10:35 - 10:50 Break

10:50 - 11:30 Linda Forrest (University of Oregon)
 Syntactic subject and focus of attention in language
11:35 - 12:15 Hubert Cuyckens (University of Antwerp)
 Family resemblance structure in the Dutch spatial
 prepositions 'door' and 'langs'

12:15 - 1:30 Lunch

 1:30 - 2:10 Chris Sinha (University of Aarhus)
 Canonical rules: The role of material culture in spatial
 cognitive and language development
 2:15 - 2:55 Melita Kovacevic & Milena Zic-Fuchs (University of Zagreb)
 An analysis of spatial relations in Croatian: A cognitive

 2:55 - 3:10 Break

 3:10 - 3:50 June Luchjenbroers (Hong Kong Polytechnic)
 Locations in space
 3:55 - 4:35 Klaus-Peter Gapp (University of Saarbruecken)
 On the basic meaning of spatial relations: Computation and
 evaluation in 3D space

 4:40 - 5:30 Informal discussion


** M.M. Jocelyne Fernandez-Vest
 Spatial cognition and the organization of discourse -- evidence from
 the Sami language (Lapland)
The Sami language, in its northern variety, is taken here as a prototype of
Orality. Some specific features of the language system seem to have an oral
motivation, e.g., the rich spatio-temporal deixis (see the functional "mental
maps" of reindeer-breeders as opposed to fishermen). The comparative study of
Discourse Particles, often of spatial origin, furthermore suggests
investigating conceptualization as anchored in physical experience and related
to metaphorically structured processes. The recent accession of Sami to the
written form implies a new relationship of the speakers [to their identity
and] to their language: the Sami language, finding its way into new
communication networks, is less contextualized.

** Alan Cienki
 STRAIGHT and CURVED as image schemas

Recent studies within several veins of cognitive linguistics have explored
image schemas as a means by which we organize and understand our experience.
 Using Mark Johnson's (1987: xiv) definition, "[a]n image schema is a
recurring, dynamic pattern of our perceptual interactions and motor programs
that gives coherence and structure to our experience." In this paper, I will
propose STRAIGHT and CURVED as a pair of complementary image schemas which
have not been recognized in previous cognitive linguistic research, and will
explore how our experience and understanding of them as gestalts depends on
both spatial and force-dynamic aspects of their structure. Supporting evidence
comes from research in spatial perception and from the variety of metaphors
in different languages which use STRAIGHT and CURVED as source domains.

** Linda Forrest
 Syntactic subject and focus of attention in language production

When speakers map a mental representation onto a linguistic code, one
fundamental problem is selection of syntactic subject. In choosing between
'the heart is above the star' or 'the star is below the heart,' speakers must
take a perspective that seems to depend on which referent is focally attended.
In two experiments, speakers produced locative sentences about pictures while
their focus of attention was manipulated using visual cueing techniques
developed in psychological research. Speakers chose attended figures as
subject more frequently and produced utterances having attended figures as
subject more quickly, providing strong evidence that English syntactic subject
codes cognitive focus of attention.

** Hubert Cuyckens
 Family resemblance structure in the Dutch spatial prepositions 'door'
 and 'langs'

In this paper, I will examine the semantic/conceptual information in the Dutch
spatial prepositions 'door' and 'langs' and set up their family resemblance
structure. These are the main lines of the analysis: Each of the uses of
'door' and 'langs' will be specified in terms of a bundle of cooccurring
features (or, in other words, in terms of a featural configuration). Taken
together, these uses constitute a network of interrelated featural
configurations in which configurations either have features in common with one
another or are transformationally linked (cf. Lakoff 1987: 425). As the family
resemblance structures I would like to present systematically characterize the
semantic/conceptual relations between the various uses of 'langs' en 'door',
they also shed some light on how one use might be derived from (or motivated
by) the other.

** Chris Sinha
 Canonical rules: The role of material culture in spatial cognitive and
 language development

This paper argues on the basis of developmental evidence that spatial
cognition and language is not organized solely on the basis of an unmediated
mapping from the innate properties of the human perceptual system, but also
represents socio-culturally standard (canonical) rules correlating object
functions with object forms. Such canonical rules partly canalize the
development of the human infant's representations of proximal space. The
ontology of proximal space as humanly cognitively represented is
co-constituted by human biology, the nature of the physical world, and human

** Melita Kovacevic & Melita Zic-Fuchs
 An analysis of spatial relations in Croatian: A cognitive approach

In Croatian, as in other similar languages, spatial relations are
predominantly expressed by prepositions and other deictic expressions.
 Until now no systematic attempt has been made to analyze language
acquisition in Croatian, and this is especially felt in specific domains such
as spatial relations, which are interesting not only linguistically but also
 The preliminary analysis of a pilot study of metalinguistic knowledge
and spatial relations showed that the subjects had difficulties in dealing
with spatial prepositions in sentence production in Croatian. This triggered
off further investigation on a broader range of subjects (starting from
pre-school to college students) that tested both their linguistic and
conceptual competence in dealing with spatial relations.
 We discuss the implications of these findings in terms of the
relationship between linguistic and cognitive determinants expressing spatial

** June Luchjenbroers
 Locations in space

My work looks at the process of on-line discourse comprehension and the
establishment of mutual ground between discourse participants in terms of a
schematic framework for cognitive (and linguistic) information processing.
I have argued in my PHD thesis [Pragmatic inference in language processing,
La Trobe University, Melbourne, 1993] that a conceptual construct of 'mutual
ground' is a necessary formalism in courtroom discourse as verbal interactions
are performed between two parties for the benefit of a third party (the jury)
who do not participate but are the ones the barristers need to convince.
Therefore, verbal interactions proceed on the basis of what jurors are
presumed to know (i.e., hold in conceptual space). Temporal and locative
units as well as a new pattern identified in my thesis, 'x prep y'
(head+postmodifier) pattern, are discussed in terms of their anchoring and
spatial properties as strategies for pointing to discourse locations in
cognitive space.
 The data are the court transcripts of a Supreme Court murder trial, held
over 6 days in Melbourne (Australia) during 1986, and encompass 33 witness

** Klaus-Peter Gapp
 On the basic meaning of spatial relations: Computation and evaluation
 in 3D space

Spatial relations play an important role in the research area of connecting
visual and verbal space. In the last decade several approaches to semantics
and computation of spatial relations in 2D space have been developed.
Presented here is a new approach to the computation and evaluation of basic
spatial relations' meanings in 3D space. We propose the use of various kinds
of approximations when defining the basic semantics. The vagueness of the
applicability of a spatial relation is accounted for by a flexible evaluation
component which enables a cognitively plausible continuous gradation. For
validating the evolved methods we have integrated them into a workbench. This
workbench allows us to investigate the structure of a spatial relation's
applicability region through various visualization methods.
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