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Spatial terms reflect near-optimal spatial categories

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http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons119

Majid,  Asifa
Language and Cognition Group, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Khetarpal_CogSci_2009.pdf
(Publisher version), 442KB

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Citation

Khetarpal, N., Majid, A., & Regier, T. (2009). Spatial terms reflect near-optimal spatial categories. Talk presented at the 31st Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society [CogSci 2009]. Amsterdam, The Netherlands. 2009-07-29 - 2009-08-01.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-000F-1081-B
Abstract
Spatial terms in the world’s languages appear to reflect both universal conceptual tendencies and linguistic convention. A similarly mixed picture in the case of color naming has been accounted for in terms of near-optimal partitions of color space. Here, we demonstrate that this account generalizes to spatial terms. We show that the spatial terms of 9 diverse languages near-optimally partition a similarity space of spatial meanings, just as color terms near-optimally partition color space. This account accommodates both universal tendencies and cross-language differences in spatial category extension, and identifies general structuring principles that appear to operate across different semantic domains.