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The second thing that the multilingual turn might do is open the door to increased interdisciplinary research and collaborations. Personally, the best part of a multilingual turn in linguistic relativity theory is an acknowledgment of global realities that most speakers are multilingual, or at least multidialectal.


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Ahearn, L. Living language: An introduction to linguistic anthropology. London: Wiley-Blackwell. Brown, R. A study in language and cognition. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 49, Mesthrie, R. Introducing sociolinguistics 2nd ed. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Such a contrast in RT between the two groups of monolingual speakers is of particular importance in indicating that the overall quicker RT of English monolinguals can be attributed to their even quicker reaction to manner-matches.

Secondly, an additional by-item analysis was further performed on the RT data to investigate whether the interaction effect between participant group and preference type remains systematic across individual items. Pairwise comparisons with Bonferroni correction further revealed that the differences in mean RT between manner- vs. In summary, our by-participant and by-item analyses converge on an observation that the differences in RT to manner-match vs.

Great discrepancies were attested between typologically different L1s English vs. Chinese , different learner types monolinguals vs. Monolingual speakers of English reacted significantly quicker to the manner-match than to the path-match, whereas their Chinese counterparts used an approximately equal amount of time in making manner- and path-matched decisions.

As for L2 learners, they seem to achieve a target language-biased cognitive pattern only at a relatively advanced stage of acquisition. The current study investigates how Chinese learners of English at different proficiencies conceptualize motion in a triads matching task, as compared to monolingual speakers of English and Chinese. Two main questions are asked: a whether the effect of motion language typology can go beyond language performance and influence non-verbal event categorisation of monolingual speakers; b whether, and how, the non-verbal event categorisation of L2 learners differs from that of monolinguals and, further, whether there are any significant shifts in motion cognition pattern across proficiencies, as suggested by the behavioral evidence.

Overall, our two sets of analyses i. In terms of choice response, both monolinguals of different languages and L2 learners at varied proficiencies prefer the path-matched screens in judgment. Given that the effect of linguistic relativity is normally canceled in verbal interference tasks as revealed in some previous studies e. The first question arising from the above reported findings may be why Chinese and English monolinguals did not show any significant variations in their choice response, despite the striking differences in linguistic encoding of motion events between these two languages?


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Such an observation may be interpreted from different perspectives. One possibility, as suggested by Lupyan , is that describing events constitutes an inherently more complex form of linguistic labeling than, say, object naming. Therefore, any widely attested differences in motion description across world languages tend to be probabilistic rather than categorical, showing great within-language variability. As a case in point, French is traditionally and standardly considered as a verb-framed language, but recent studies reveal that apart from expressing path of motion in the verb, French can also express path in a prefix demonstrating a satellite-framed pattern with high degree of productivity Kopecka, , p.

Note that our results regarding the choice data are inconsistent with findings of some previous studies using similar triads matching tasks in relation to motion events. Such a crosslinguistic difference is found to influence the non-verbal event categorisation of NSs of the two languages. A more important reason for the discrepancy, however, might be related to the degree of differences between the two languages under comparison in given aspects. In Athanasopoulos et al. Such a stark contrast does not hold between Chinese and English and in general, between equipollently- and satellite-framed languages in terms of manner and path salience.

In both languages, the manner information is highlighted in the marked grammatical category of verb in verb root in English and in compound verb in Chinese. The path dimension is characteristically encoded in both languages as well though its salience is accentuated in varying degrees: it is encoded in the grammatically marked category of verb in Chinese but outside the verbal domain in unmarked categories of particles and prepositions in English.

In English, although manner is linguistically presented as more salient than path, such relative salience is not sufficiently strong to exert a categorical impact on non-verbal behavior, say, leading to a preference for the manner-matched scenes amongst English monolinguals. The above discussions highlight the importance of introducing the RT data into our analysis: they may be more sensitive to language effects that are too probabilistic to detect in the choice response in a forced similarity judgment context.

In hindsight, the adoption of RT in measuring the implicit processing in similarity judgments is particularly useful to our study.

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Overt choices i. Given that the two sets of measurements produce findings that are inconsistent with each other, the RT data aids us in revealing aspects of processing that are not readily available in choice results. Reaction time is traditionally defined as a measure of the time it takes people to retrieve information from memory Collins and Quillian, Questions arise as to what information has been retrieved in context, as presented in the current experimental design. The real difference between monolingual speakers of Chinese and English lies in the way that retrieved information has been processed prior to rendering a judgment.

By contrast, NSs of English may have attended to the manner dimension for judgment in the first instance.

In actual behavior, although they mostly prefer the path-match, when they do choose the manner-match, they are responding particularly quickly. In cases where aspects of the motion stimuli are deemed not sufficiently supportive of a judgment based on manner-salience, English monolinguals then turn to the path dimension for further processing. According to Collins and Quillian , p. It is reasonable to hypothesize that in reaching a path-matched decision, an additional process of negation may have prolonged the encoding time, thus resulting in the great discrepancy in RT to manner- vs.

As for L2 learners, our study suggests that those participants of medium and high proficiencies can reconstruct their motion cognition pattern biased toward the target language in online processing, although the more novice learners still show a native-language biased cognitive mode.

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Slobin , p. This even occurs when L1 and L2 are typologically opposing or the linguistic pattern to acquire involves complicated and advanced language skills, such as syntactic construction and discourse organization Cadierno, ; Cadierno and Ruiz, ; Ji and Hohenstein, a , b , to name a few. Taken together, our findings seem to suggest that when engaged in online language-recruiting activities e. Having said that, one should bear in mind that in our particular experimental context, the languages in comparison are at least partially similar in terms of motion event typology i.

Therefore, it sounds plausible to assume that the L2 learners in our task do not have necessarily completed a process of conceptual convergence or switch; instead, in our case, in which the L2 cognitive pattern for motion i. In summary, our findings highlight the complexity of research into motion and space in general , language and mind.

Much ground has yet to be covered in research in an L2 context. When interpreting the role of language in spatial conceptualisation, future studies should take into account variations along a number of dimensions, such as the experimental stimuli used static pictures vs. All subjects gave written informed consent in accordance with the requirement of Shenzhen University.

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The author confirms being the sole contributor of this work and approved it for publication. The author declares that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest. I would like to thank Dr. Xiaobei Zheng for her technical support with the data analysis, and Ms. Tingting Chen and Ms.

Chunbing Fang for their assistance with data collection. Since manner- and path-matched video clips alternate at the left or right position of the screen, this would systematically lead to an equal number of selections for manner- and path-matched scenes, thus failing to show any particular preference for either the manner or the path dimension.


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  • Some recent studies suggest that the language involved in a non-verbal task may exert a context-bound and transient effect on bilingual cognition but see Filipovic, for different findings. For instance, Athanasopoulos et al.

    Teresa Cadierno

    Other researchers have different observations suggesting that if bilingual groups have access to both languages during the task, any effects induced by language context may be effectively wiped out see Montero-Melis et al. Participants of both language groups show a preference for motion ongoingness, probably because in both the target scene and the ongoingness alternates, the endpoint is not reached see Athanasopoulos et al.

    National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Journal List Front Psychol v. Front Psychol. Published online Jun 7. Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. This article was submitted to Language Sciences, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology. Received Dec 2; Accepted May The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author s or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice.

    No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms. Abstract Languages differ systematically in how to encode a motion event. Keywords: linguistic relativity, spatial cognition, similarity judgment, reaction time. Encoding Caused Motion Events in English and Chinese The observation that world languages systematically differ in encoding motion events leads Talmy , to formulate his motion event typology. Conceptualisation of Motion Events in L1 and L2 Speakers The striking cross-linguistic differences in terms of motion event typology prompts the question of whether motion cognition differs in speakers of languages with opposing properties.

    Research Questions and Hypotheses The present study is generally interested in two questions: a whether the effect of motion language typology can go beyond language performance, and influence motion conceptualisation of monolingual speakers as tested in a triads matching task ; b whether, and how, the motion conceptualisation of L2 learners differs from that of monolinguals.

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    Methodologies Participants One hundred and sixty adult students participated in the study; all were university or senior high school students. Table 1 Groups of participants in the study. Open in a separate window. This is because it is virtually impossible to recruit entirely and completely monolingual Chinese native speakers who are also educated to university level.

    We have made sure that the senior technical school students we recruited have only basic to lower knowledge of English due to the course design in their school. Materials Forty-eight short video clips 5 s each were used as our stimuli, each depicting a caused motion event, in which both manner coupled with cause and path were presented as equally salient.

    Procedures Pre-test A pre-test for perseveration was administered prior to the testing session 1.