The role of structure and function in the conceptualization of direction

Alexander Klippel, Thora Tenbrink and Daniel R. Montello

in Motion Encoding in Language and Space

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199661213
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745348 | DOI:

Series: Explorations in Language and Space

The role of structure and function in the conceptualization of direction

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This chapter analyses a corpus of route directions given while viewing simple maps, focusing on the conceptualization of direction changes at decision points. It addresses the variability of conceptualizations underlying turning actions at decision points as well as the level of detail given to specify actions, and proposes a systematic approach to analysing route direction data that is suitable to account for the difference between structure and function. Verbalizations of trajectories within a route direction task may require different levels of detail depending on the spatial situation, to enable disambiguation to the degree needed to perform the route task. Characterization of aspects that influence the specification of spatial relations in the context of route directions accounts for (a) the spatial structure of an intersection, (b) the action to be performed at an intersection that demarcates functionally relevant parts, (c) the availability of additional features that can be used to anchor the action to be performed (landmarks), and (d) the conceptualization of this action as a result of structure and function and the features available.

Keywords: route directions; language and space; structure and function; spatial concepts; contrastive reference; complexity

Chapter.  7552 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Psycholinguistics

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