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Chapter 8 presents a summary of the findings. The limitations of the study are also discussed, including the subtle nature of function, more cross-linguistic verification, comparisons in greater detail, the need for both diachronic and synchronic investigations, and so on. More significantly, spoken language should also be taken into consideration for further improvement.
The spatial agency bias predicts that people whose native language is rightward written will predominantly envisage action along the same direction. Two mechanisms contribute jointly to this asymmetry: (a) an embodied process related to writing/reading; (b) a linguistic regularity according to which sentence subjects (typically the agent) tend to precede objects (typically the recipient). Here we test a novel hypothesis in relation to the second mechanism, namely, that this asymmetry will be most pronounced in languages with rigid word order. A preregistered study on 14 European languages (n = 420) varying in word order flexibility confirmed a rightward bias in drawings of interactions between two people (agent and recipient). This bias was weaker in more flexible languages, confirming that embodied and linguistic features of language interact in producing it.
It has been suggested that human communities that share their basic cultural foundations evince no remarkable differences concerning the characterization of core concepts. However, the small but existing differences among them reflect their sociocultural diversity. This study compares 219 concrete concepts common to both Spanish and English semantic feature norms in order to assess whether core features of concepts follow a universal or cultural language-specific pattern. Concepts were compared through a geometric technique of vector comparison in the Euclidean n-dimensional space alongside the calculation of the network’s degree of centrality. The role of cognate status was also explored by repeating the former analysis separating cognate from noncognate words. Taken together, our data show that languages are structurally similar independent of the cognate status of words, further suggesting that there are some sort of core features common to both languages.
This study investigates the pitch properties of infant-directed speech (IDS) specific to word-learning contexts in which mothers introduce unfamiliar words to children. Using a semi-spontaneous story-book telling task, we examined (1) whether mothers made distinctions between unfamiliar and familiar words with pitch in IDS compared to adult-directed speech (ADS); (2) whether pitch properties change when mothers address children from 18 to 24 months; and (3) how Mandarin Chinese and Dutch IDS differ in their pitch properties in word-learning contexts. Results show that the mean pitch of Mandarin Chinese IDS was already ADS-like when children were 24 months, but Dutch IDS remained exaggerated in pitch at the same age. Crucially, Mandarin Chinese mothers used a higher pitch and a larger pitch range in IDS when introducing unfamiliar words, while Dutch mothers used a higher pitch specifically for familiar words. These findings contribute to the language-specificity of prosodic input in early lexical development.
Structural priming is the phenomenon that speakers tend to re-use structures they have recently comprehended or produced themselves. Most studies on this topic are experimental and looked at within-language priming. However, there are now also many observational studies, a development that is inextricably related to new/larger corpora, new statistical methodologies, and new theoretical ideas. Second, there is a growing body of research on cross-linguistic structural priming, though mostly experimental. These developments lead to a new potential research avenue: cross-linguistic priming on the basis of observational data. Here, we will first summarize some fundamental studies of cross-linguistic priming, and then trace the historical development of observational studies of structural priming to showcase how statistical and theoretical developments have shaped research on priming in general and discuss what such observational priming research has offered to within-language priming research. We end with a discussion of how this research can inform cross-linguistic priming.
This study reports a methodological itinerary aimed at developing a statistically supported investigative procedure useful for the empirical verification of hypotheses in Cognitive Linguistics research. It targets motion–emotion construals and explores the possible conceptual link between upward-oriented movements encoded in some motion verbs and the emotional state of happiness. The results emerging from the observation of two typologically different languages (English and Italian) lend empirically verified evidence for basic hypotheses in cognition and language research regarding the conceptualization of emotions and also for findings in cross-linguistic research on emotion representation.
Malay (Rumi) is alphabetic and has a transparent, agglutinative system of affixation. We manipulated language-specific junctural phonetics in Malay and English to investigate whether morphophonemic L1-knowledge influences L2-processing. A morpheme decision task, “Does this <nonword> sound like a mono- or bi-morphemic English word?”, was developed by crossing English Transitional Probability (high vs. low) with Malay Transitional Possibility (possible vs. impossible). The data for Malay-L1/English-L2 adults (N = 21) provide clear and reliable empirical evidence of L1-to-L2 morphophonemic transfer: Participants were more accurate at identifying transitional boundaries in English when they are also possible in Malay. Pedagogical implications are discussed.
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