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The linguistic and cognitive representation of motion events

Final Activity Report Summary - COGLANG (The linguistic and cognitive representation of motion events)

The study addressed the relation between language and cognition and examined the influence of language-specific patterns on linguistic and non-linguistic categorisation across speakers of French and Polish. These languages differ in the way they encode two basic parameters associated with motion, namely Path and Manner: while Polish expresses Path in the verb prefix and Manner, obligatorily, in the main verb (e.g. w-biec 'in-run', wy-biec 'out-run'), French tends to express Path in the main verb and Manner, optionally, in a gerund or some other adverbial expression (e.g. entrer en courant 'enter running', sortir en courant 'exit running'). The aim of the study was to scrutinise the discursive and cognitive implications of these typological patterns.

Grounded in an interdisciplinary approach, the study combined linguistic and non-linguistic methods in order to assess whether and how language-specific patterns determine the particular aspects of motion events, such as Manner and/or Path, on which speakers of French and Polish focus in describing and categorising (in language and non-linguistic cognition) such events.

The project has produced new results relating to the issues of spatial language and cognition among French and Polish speakers, leading to a thorough description and characterisation of this conceptual domain. More specifically, by investigating the representation of both spontaneous and caused motion events (e.g. run into the room vs. put the apple into the bowl), this project:
(1) documented typological patterns of the expression of motion events in French and Polish
(2) evaluated the impact of language typology on linguistic and non-linguistic cognition, and
(3) gained insight into semantic categories underlying the representation of motion.