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Motion events in language and cognition

Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam.
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  • Linguistics


This study investigated whether different lexicalization patterns of motion events in English and Spanish predict how speakers of these languages perform in non-linguistic tasks. Using 36 motion events, we compared English and Spanish speakers' linguistic descriptions to their performance on two non-linguistic tasks: recognition memory and similarity judgments. We investigated the effect of language processing on non-linguistic performance by varying the nature of the encoding before testing for recognition and similarity. Participants encoded the events while describing them verbally or not. No effect of language was obtained in the recognition memory task after either linguistic or non-linguistic encoding and in the similarity task after non-linguistic encoding. We did find a linguistic effect in the similarity task after verbal encoding, an effect that conformed to language-specific patterns. Linguistic descriptions directed attention to certain aspects of the events later used to make a non-linguistic judgment. This suggests that linguistic and non-linguistic performance are dissociable, but language-specific regularities made available in the experimental context may mediate the speaker's performance in specific tasks.

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