Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-59b7f5684b-frvt8 Total loading time: 0.436 Render date: 2022-10-04T01:47:08.594Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "displayNetworkTab": true, "displayNetworkMapGraph": true, "useSa": true } hasContentIssue true

Figure and Ground in spatial language: evidence from German and Korean

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 March 2019

SOONJA CHOI
Affiliation:
University of Vienna and San Diego State University
FLORIAN GOLLER
Affiliation:
University of Vienna
UPYONG HONG
Affiliation:
Konkuk University
ULRICH ANSORGE
Affiliation:
University of Vienna
HONGOAK YUN*
Affiliation:
Jeju National University
*
E-mail for correspondence: Hongoak Yun at oaktreepark@gmail.com.

Abstract

We investigate how German and Korean speakers describe everyday spatial/motion events, such as putting a cup on the table. In these motion events, the moving object (e.g., cup) and the non-moving reference object (e.g., table) take on the roles of Figure and Ground, respectively. Figure(F) and Ground(G) thus have distinct perceptual properties and assume conceptually asymmetric roles (entity moving along a trajectory vs. stationary reference frame). We examine the degrees to which speakers distinguish between F and G semantically (spatial/Path terms, e.g., on, in) and syntactically (grammatical roles, e.g., subject, object). Participants described events involving two objects that switched their F-G roles (put cup(F) on board(G) and put board(F) under cup(G)). German speakers use distinct Path terms (e.g., auf, in) for differential F-G relations, thus encoding the F-G asymmetry. In contrast, Korean speakers use the same terms (e.g., kkita ‘fit.tightly’) and the same syntactic constructions regardless of switches in F-G roles. These cross-linguistic differences are evident for Non-typical events (Put board(F) under cup(G)), showing that the encoding of the asymmetry interacts with speakers’ everyday experiences of motion events. We argue that the differences reflect the interactions between the Path lexicon and spatial syntax, and language-specific viewpoints of the F-G relation.

Type
Article
Copyright
Copyright © UK Cognitive Linguistics Association 2019 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Footnotes

*

This research was supported by WWTF (Vienna Science and Technology Funds, CS15-001) to U. Ansorge and S. Choi, and also in part by the Program of National Research Foundation of Korea through the Ministry of Education to H. Yun. We thank Virginia Gathercole and her colleagues for providing some of the stimuli for this study. Our thanks also go to Alexandra Kroiss and student assistants (Kathrin Rosensprung, Elena Vaporova) at the University of Vienna, Austria, and to Sunghwa Choi at Konkuk University in Seoul, Korea, for invaluable help in data collection and processing. We are exceptionally grateful to Bodo Winter, who gave us extensive feedback and detailed suggestions for improvement in all aspects of the paper. Of course, responsibility for any errors in this paper remains our own.

References

references

Baillargeon, R., Li, J., Gertner, Y., & Wu, D. (2010). How do infants reason about physical events? In Goswami, U. (Ed.), The Wiley-Blackwell handbook of childhood cognitive development (pp. 1148). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bates, D., Maechler, M., Bolker, B., & Walker, S. (2015). Fitting linear mixed-effects models using lme4. Journal of Statistical Software, 67(1), 148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Beavers, J., Levin, B., & Tham, S. W. (2010). The typology of motion expressions revisited. Journal of Linguistics, 46(2), 331377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bowerman, M., & Choi, S. (2003). Space under construction: language-specific spatial categorization in first language acquisition. In Gentner, D. & Goldin-Meadow, S. (Eds.), Language in mind: advances in the study of language and cognition (pp. 387428). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Choi, S. (2011). Language-specificity of motion event expressions in young Korean children. Language, Interaction & Acquisition, 2(1), 157184.Google Scholar
Choi, S., & Hattrup, K. (2012). Relative contribution of cognition/perception and language on spatial categorization. Cognitive Science , 36, 102129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Coventry, K. R., & Guijarro-Fuentes, P. (2008). Spatial language learning and the functional geometric framework. In Robinson, P. J. & Ellis, N. C. (Eds.), Handbook of cognitive linguistics and second language acquisition (pp. 114138). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
Enders, C. K., & Tofighi, D. (2007). Centering predictor variables in cross-sectional multi-level models: a new look at an old issue. Psychological Methods, 12(2), 121138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Flecken, M., von Stutterheim, C., & Carroll, M. (2014) Grammatical aspect influences motion event perception: findings from a cross-linguistic non-verbal recognition task. Language and Cognition, 6, 4578.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gennari, S., Sloman, S., Malt, B., & Fitch, T. (2002) Motion events in language and cognition. Cognition, 83, 4979.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Göksun, T., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Golinkoff, R. M., Imai, M., Konishi, H., & Okada, H. (2011). Who is crossing where? Infants’ discrimination of figures and grounds in events. Cognition, 121, 176195.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Goller, F., Lee, D., Ansorge, U., & Choi, S. (2017). Effects of language background on gaze behavior: a crosslinguistic comparison between Korean and German speakers. Advances in Cognitive Psychology, 13, 267279.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Grice, P. (1975). Logic and conversation. In Cole, P. & Morgan, J. (Eds.), Syntax and semantics, 3: speech acts (pp. 4158). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
Hellwig, F. M., & Lüpke, F. (2001). Caused positions. In Levinson, S. C. & Enfield, N. J. (Eds.), Manual for the field season 2001 (pp. 126128). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics.Google Scholar
Hespos, S., & Spelke, E. S. (2004). Conceptual precursors to language. Nature, 430, 453456.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hickmann, M., Taranne, P., & Bonnet, P. (2009). Motion in first language acquisition: manner and path in French and English child language. Journal of Child Language, 36(4), 705741.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Hutchins, E. (1995). Cognition in the wild . Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Jaeger, T. F. (2008). Categorical data analysis: away from ANOVAS (transformation or not) and towards logit mixed models. Journal of Memory and Language, 59(4), 434456.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Ji, Y., Hendriks, H., & Hickmann, M. (2011). How children express caused motion events in Chinese and English: universal and language-specific influences. Lingua , 121(12), 17961819.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kutscher, S., & Schultze-Berndt, E. (2007). Why a folder lies in the basket although it is not lying: the semantics and use of German positional verbs with inanimate Figures. Linguistics, 45, 9831028.Google Scholar
Langacker, R. W. (1987). Foundations of cognitive grammar . Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
Langacker, R. W. (1990). Concept, image, and symbol: the cognitive basis of grammar. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
Langacker, R. W. (2008). Cognitive grammar: a basic introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Levinson, S. C., Meira, S., & the Language and Cognition Group (2003). ‘Natural concepts’ in the spatial topological domain – adpositional meanings in crosslinguistic perspective: an exercise in semantic typology. Language , 79(3), 485516.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Majid, A., Jordan, F., & Dunn, M. (2015). Semantic systems in closely related languages. Language Sciences , 49, 118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Muehleisen, V., & Imai, M. (1997). Transitivity and the incorporation of ground information in Japanese path verbs. In Lee, K., Sweetwer, E., & Verspoor, M. (Eds.), Lexical and syntactic constructions and the construction of meaning (pp. 329346). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Naigles, L., & Terrazas, P. (1998). Motion verb generalizations in English and Spanish. Psychological Science , 9, 363369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Özyürek, A., & Kita, S. (1999). Expressing manner and path in English and Turkish: differences in speech, gesture, and conceptualization. In Hahn, M. & Stoness, S. C. (Eds.), Twenty-first Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 507512). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
Özyürek, A., Kita, S., Allen, S., Brown, A., Furman, R., & Ishizuka, T. (2008). Development of cross-linguistic variation in speech and gesture: motion events in English and Turkish. Developmental Psychology, 44(4), 10401054.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Papafragou, A., Hulbert, J., & Trueswell, J. (2008). Does language guide event perception? Evidence from eye movements. Cognition, 108, 155184.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Papafragou, A., & Selimis, S. (2010). Event categorization and language: a cross-linguistic study of motion. Language and Cognitive Processes, 25(2), 224260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pederson, E., Danziger, E., Wilkins, D., Levinson, S., Kita, S., & Senft, G. (1998). Semantic typology and spatial conceptualization. Language, 74(3), 557589.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pruden, S. M., Roseberry, S., Göksun, T., Hirsh-Pasek, K., & Golinkoff, R. M. (2013). Infant categorization of path relations during dynamic events. Child Development , 84(1), 331345.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Quinn, P. C., Cummins, M., Kase, J., Maartin, E., & Weissman, S. (1996). Development of categorical representations for above and below spatial relations in 3- to 7-month-old infants, Developmental Psychology, 32, 942950.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
R Development Core Team (2018). R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. Online <http://www.R-project.org/>..>Google Scholar
Slobin, D. I. (2004). The many ways to search for a frog: linguistic typology and the expression of motion events. In Strömqvist, S. & Verhoeven, L. (Eds.), Relating events in narrative, Vol. 2: Typological and contextual perspectives (pp. 219257). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
Soroli, E. (2012). Variation in spatial language and cognition: exploring visuo-spatial thinking and speaking cross-linguistically. Cognitive Processing , 13(S1), 333337.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Talmy, L. (1978). Figure and ground in complex sentences. In Greenberg, J., Ferguson, C., & Moravcsik, E. (Eds.), Universals of human language (pp. 627649). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
Talmy, L. (1985). Lexicalization patterns: semantic structure in lexical forms. In Shopin, T. (Ed.), Language typology and syntactic description, Vol. III: Grammatical categories and the lexicon (pp. 57149). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Talmy, L. (2000). Toward a cognitive semantics, Vol. I: Concept structuring system . Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Thiering, M. (2011). Figure-ground reversals in language. Gestalt Theory , 33(3/4), 245276.Google Scholar
Thiering, M. (2015). Spatial semiotics and spatial mental models: Figure-Ground asymmetries in languages (Applications of Cognitive Linguistics). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Vandeloise, C. (1991). Spatial prepositions: a case study from French [Espace en francais: Semantique des prepositions spatiales, trans. Bosch, A. R. K.] Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Yun, H., & Choi, S. (2018). Spatial semantics, cognition, and their interaction: a comparative study of spatial categorization in English and Korean. Cognitive Science, 42(6), 17361776.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Supplementary material: File

Choi et al. supplementary material

Appendix SA

Download Choi et al. supplementary material(File)
File 26 KB

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Figure and Ground in spatial language: evidence from German and Korean
Available formats
×

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Figure and Ground in spatial language: evidence from German and Korean
Available formats
×

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Figure and Ground in spatial language: evidence from German and Korean
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *