November 29: Sascha Morel (Utrecht University) – UiL OTS

We’re happy to announce that on Thursday, November 29, Sascha Morel (Utrecht University)  will give a LUSH talk in Utrecht entitled Sensitivity to reference frame and distance variations in processing topological and projective prepositions. Hope to see you all there!

Date: Thursday, November 29, 2012

Time: 15:15-17:00

Location: Drift 25, room 105


Spatial prepositions describe how one object (the figure) is related in space to another object (the ground). They fall into two global classes: topological (T) prepositions (like in and on) and projective (P) prepositions (like above and behind).  Differences between these groups of prepositions are found in multiple domains. Whereas topological prepositions are defined in terms of notions like inclusion and contiguity, projective prepositions are defined in terms of particular axes or angles.  In language use, topological prepositions are often short words occurring with high frequency, while projective prepositions are often more complex and of lower frequency.

The foregoing raises the possibility that distinct cognitive subsystems might underlie the processing of topological and projective prepositions.  The present study intends to further illuminate the cognitive foundations of the distinction.  We focus on the effects of reference frame transformations. While understanding of projective prepositions is thought to be sensitive to the intrinsic or absolute orientation of the ground, and hence to rotations of the ground, understanding of topological prepositions may remain invariant when the ground is rotated. To explore the T/P distinction, invariance under rotation is examined by using three different experimental designs based on sentence-scene stimuli. The influence of intrinsic and absolute reference frames on the acceptability of Dutch “op” and “boven” by rotating the scenes is investigated in a blocked (T and P sentences are presented in different blocks), a mixed (T and P sentences are presented at random) and a production design (participants can choose between on/above /none).


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