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Department of Cognitive Science

How space gets into language: A novel approach

Francesco-Alessio Ursini (
Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science, Sydney


There exist several proposals regarding the relation between Cognition and Language with respect to 'Space', our understanding of objects and their changing position in the world. Some earlier approaches assume that Language conveys a radically impoverished amount of information than that processed at a visual level (Landau & Jackendoff, 1993). More recent approaches instead argue that 'spatial language' is closer in richness to 'spatial cognition', but do so by positing a blurrier boundary between the two levels of comprehension (Coventry & Garrod, 2004). In this paper I will offer an argument for a novel synthesis of these two positions, based on what counts as 'spatial cognition' and 'spatial language', and what core properties can be found across these two levels of information-processing. I will also propose that there is also a crucial difference between these two levels: that of fine-grainedness, namely the amount of information we wish to convey and to omit when we produce a sentence regarding objects and their position.

Citation details for this article:

Ursini, F. (2010). How space gets into language: a novel approach. In W. Christensen, E. Schier, and J. Sutton (Eds.), ASCS09: Proceedings of the 9th Conference of the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science (pp. 348-356). Sydney: Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science.

DOI: 10.5096/ASCS200953
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