[UMR] Christiane von Stutterheim (Heidelberg)
Salle de conférences
Representation of events in language and cognition
Christiane von Stutterheim (Heidelberg)
In my talk I will focus on the representation of motion events in language and cognition, based on two languages, French and German, that differ significantly in the domain of spatial expressions. In solving cognitive and communicative tasks, speakers draw on task-related knowledge which is continuously updated by integrating incoming information on a structured basis. One of the fundamental principles which underlie and structure these processes is rooted in the mental construct event. Events are formed when segmenting visual input into storable units which provide a format in which our knowledge is stored, accessed, and retrieved from long- and short-term memory. The underlying processes in event construal involve mental operations such as categorization, interpretation and perspectivation, all of which are driven by a number of different factors. The nature of these factors and their interaction is currently under debate and by no means fully understood.
In a long-standing cooperation, the Heidelberg psycholinguistic research group and colleagues from Paris University 8 have investigated the role of language in cognitive pattern building, focusing on its implications for event construal from a cross-linguistic, comparative perspective based on psycholinguistic methodology. In the present study, motion events serve as a window on event construal, using French and German and their relevant contrasts in testing language on cognition effects. Results from a series of experimental studies are presented showing language specificity effects
a) at the level of visual processing based on the analysis of patterns of visual attention (using eye tracking experiments)
b) at the level of cognitive processing given patterns observed in non-verbal segmentation of the visual input
c) at the level of linguistic processing based on contrasts in event construal in language production, as manifested in information selection and perspective taking (using controlled production tasks).
In conclusion I weigh up the evidence for a constitutive role of linguistic structure in pattern formation in cognitive processing and knowledge representation.