Chapter

Distinctions in the linguistic encoding of motion: evidence from a free naming task<sup>1</sup>

Mila Vulchanova, Liliana Martinez and Valentin Vulchanov

in Motion Encoding in Language and Space

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199661213
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745348 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199661213.003.0002

Series: Explorations in Language and Space

Distinctions in the linguistic encoding of motion: evidence from a free naming task1

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This chapter presents and discusses the results of an exploratory free naming study of how biological motion is encoded in five languages: Bulgarian, Russian, English, Norwegian, and Italian. The cluster analysis of the data reveals interesting patterns of similarity as well as differences across all five languages. These patterns suggest that the linguistic encoding of motion may be based on a system of conceptual features, which reflect physical parameters, acknowledged to influence motion categorization both in visual perception and in linguistic semantics. It is proposed that some of these features are medium, phase, velocity, posture, method of propulsion, species, path orientation, and figure orientation. While all the languages in the sample make a clear distinction between non-supported high-velocity high-energy gaits (running), and supported slow-to-normal velocity motion (walking), they display greater variation in the latter domain, as well as in other types of motion (crawling, climbing). In addition, this study has revealed an interesting function of modifiers of the verb not observed previously. This function is dubbed the non-default explication function and this chapter suggests that its role is to signal non-default settings of the perceptual parameters characterizing motion scenes.

Keywords: biological motion encoding; conceptual features; perceptual parameters of motion identification

Chapter.  13461 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Psycholinguistics

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