Motion in language and cognition

Stéphanie Pourcel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterpeer-review


This paper presents one way of testing the validity of ideas surrounding relativism in linguistic theory by looking at the domain of motion in French and English. It compares the differing linguistic structures for motion expressions in both languages with native speakers’ cognitive conceptualisation of motion events. The question asked is whether different motion-framing structures entail different conceptualisation of motion. This paper reports cognitive and linguistic experiments using triad tests on a total of 139 native speakers of English and French. The results fail to support or disprove linguistic relativity. A preliminary discussion attempts to justify the reasons why this study – and others – fail to provide conclusive results in this domain of investigation. The paper concludes that empirical work on motion events requires a more thorough understanding and subsequent treatment of (a) linguistic typologies for motion encoding, and (b) the domain of motion itself, before it may hope ever to be conclusive.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLinguagem, cultura e cognição: estudos de linguistica cognitiva, vol. 2
EditorsA. Soares da Silva, A. Torres, M. Gonçalves
Place of PublicationCoimbra, Portugal
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9724023036
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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