More refined typology and design in linguistic relativity
The case of motion event encoding
Linguistic relativity is the influence of language on other realms of cognition. For instance, the way movement is expressed in a person’s native language may influence how they perceive movement. Motion event encoding (MEE) is usually framed as a typological dichotomy. Path-in-verb languages tend to encode path information within the verb (e.g., ‘leave’), whereas manner-in-verb languages encode manner (e.g., ‘jump’). The results of MEE-based linguistic relativity experiments range from no effect to effects on verbal and nonverbal cognition. Seeking a more definitive conclusion, we propose linguistic and experimental enhancements. First, we examine state-of-the-art typology, suggesting how a recent MEE classification across twenty languages (Verkerk, 2014) may enable more powerful analyses. Second, we review procedural challenges such as the influence of verbal thought and second-guessing in experiments. To tackle these challenges, we propose distinguishing verbal and nonverbal subgroups, and having enough filler items. Finally we exemplify this in an experimental design.
Keywords: linguistic relativity, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, lexicalization patterns, motion event encoding, motion language, cognitive semantics, language typology, linguistics, psycholinguistics, methods
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Published online: 11 April 2019
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