Journal article

How does the environment shape spatial language? Evidence for sociotopography

Bill Palmer, Jonathon Lum, Jonathan Schlossberg, Alice Gaby

Linguistic Typology | Walter de Gruyter GmbH | Published : 2017


AbstractThis article investigates the extent to which the way individuals describe spatial relationships correlates with features of the local landscape. Drawing on empirical data from two unrelated languages, Dhivehi (Indo-Aryan) and Marshallese (Austronesian), across a range of topographic environments, we examine the linguistic resources available to speakers, and spatial referential strategy preferences across languages and environments. We find that spatial language shows sensitivity to features of the topography, but this is mediated by the way speakers interact with the landscape. This leads us to propose a Sociotopographic Model, modelling the complex interplay of language structure,..

View full abstract

University of Melbourne Researchers