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ERIC Number: EJ1178396
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2018-Apr
Pages: 21
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0364-0213
When Cars Hit Trucks and Girls Hug Boys: The Effect of Animacy on Word Order in Gestural Language Creation
Kocab, Annemarie; Lam, Hannah; Snedeker, Jesse
Cognitive Science, v42 n3 p918-938 Apr 2018
A well-known typological observation is the dominance of subject-initial word orders, SOV and SVO, across the world's languages. Recent findings from gestural language creation paradigms offer possible explanations for the prevalence of SOV. When asked to gesture transitive events with an animate agent and inanimate patient, gesturers tend to produce SOV order, regardless of their native language biases. Interestingly, when the patient is animate, gesturers shift away from SOV to use of other orders, like SVO and OSV. Two competing hypotheses have been proposed for this switch: the noisy channel account (Gibson et al., 2013) and the role conflict account (Hall, Mayberry, & Ferreira, 2013). We set out to distinguish between these two hypotheses, disentangling event reversibility and patient animacy, by looking at gestural sequences for events with two inanimate participants (inanimate-inanimate, reversible). We replicated the previous findings of a preference for SOV order when describing animate-inanimate, irreversible events as well as a decrease in the use of SOV when presented with animate-animate, reversible events. Accompanying the drop in SOV, in a novel condition we observed an increase in the use of SVO and OSV orders when describing events involving two animate entities. In sum, we find that the observed avoidance of SOV order in gestural language creation paradigms when the event includes an animate agent and patient is driven by the animacy of the participants rather than the reversibility of the event. We suggest that findings from gestural creation paradigms are not automatically linkable to spoken language typology.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A