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Abstract motion is no longer abstract

  • Teenie Matlock (a1)


Dynamic conceptualization is a fundamental notion in cognitive linguistics. Abstract motion is one type of dynamic conceptualization. It is said to structure descriptions of static scenes such as ‘The mountain range goes from Mexico to Canada’, and in doing so, invokes a subjective sense of motion or state change. In recent years, a growing body of experimental research supports this claim. However, additional work is needed to understand the dynamics of abstract motion and the extent to which it generalizes. This paper provides some background on abstract motion and reports two new experiments that investigate two unexplored types of abstract motion, including visual paths and pattern paths. Together, the results indicate that abstract motion plays a central role in language use and understanding.


Corresponding author

Correspondence addresses: Teenie Matlock, Cognitive Science Program, School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts, University of California, Merced, CA 95343, USA. E-mail:


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