Volume 8, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2211-7245
  • E-ISSN: 2211-7253



Linguistic relativity is the influence of language on other realms of cognition. For instance, the way movement is expressed in a person’s native language may influence how they perceive movement. Motion event encoding (MEE) is usually framed as a typological dichotomy. languages tend to encode path information within the verb (e.g., ‘leave’), whereas languages encode manner (e.g., ‘jump’). The results of MEE-based linguistic relativity experiments range from no effect to effects on verbal and nonverbal cognition. Seeking a more definitive conclusion, we propose linguistic and experimental enhancements. First, we examine state-of-the-art typology, suggesting how a recent MEE classification across twenty languages (Verkerk, 2014) may enable more powerful analyses. Second, we review procedural challenges such as the influence of verbal thought and second-guessing in experiments. To tackle these challenges, we propose distinguishing verbal and nonverbal subgroups, and having enough filler items. Finally we exemplify this in an experimental design.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...



  1. Bohnemeyer, J., Eisenbeiss, S., Narasimhan, B.
    (2006) Ways to go: Methodological considerations in Whorfian studies in motion events. Colchester: Dept. of Language and Linguistics, University of Essex.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Boroditsky, L.
    (2001) Does language shape thought? English and Mandarin speakers’ conceptions of time. Cognitive Psychology, 43(1), 1–22. 10.1006/cogp.2001.0748
    https://doi.org/10.1006/cogp.2001.0748 [Google Scholar]
  3. Gumperz, J. J., & Levinson, S. C.
    (Eds.) (1996) Rethinking linguistic relativity. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Lucy, J. A.
    (1992) Language diversity and thought: A reformulation of the linguistic relativity hypothesis. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511620843
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511620843 [Google Scholar]
  5. Montero-Melis, G., Eisenbeiss, S., Narasimhan, B., Ibarretxe-Antuñano, I., Kita, S., Kopecka, A., Lüpke, F., Nikitina, T., Tragel, I., Jaeger, T. F., & Bohnemeyer, J.
    (2017) Satellite- vs. verb-framing underpredicts nonverbal motion categorization: Insights from a large language sample and simulations. Cognitive Semantics, 3(1), 36–61. 10.1163/23526416‑00301002
    https://doi.org/10.1163/23526416-00301002 [Google Scholar]
  6. Naigles, L., Eisenberg, A., Kako, E., Highter, M., & McGraw, N.
    (1998) Speaking of motion: Verb use in English and Spanish. Language and Cognitive Processes, 13(5), 521–549. 10.1080/016909698386429
    https://doi.org/10.1080/016909698386429 [Google Scholar]
  7. Papafragou, A., Massey, C., & Gleitman, L.
    (2002) Shake, rattle, ‘n’ roll: The representation of motion in thought and language. Cognition, 84(2), 189–219. 10.1016/S0010‑0277(02)00046‑X
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0010-0277(02)00046-X [Google Scholar]
  8. Sapir, E.
    (1921) Language: An introduction to the study of speech. New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Skordos, D., & Papafragou, A.
    (2014) Lexical, syntactic, and semantic-geometric factors in the acquisition of motion predicates. Developmental Psychology, 50(7), 1985–1998. 10.1037/a0036970
    https://doi.org/10.1037/a0036970 [Google Scholar]
  10. Slobin, D. I.
    (1987) Thinking for speaking. Proceedings of the Thirteenth Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society (pp.435–445). Berkeley University of California.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. (1996) Two ways to travel: Verbs of motion in English and Spanish. InM. Shibatani, & S. A. Thomspon (Eds.), Grammatical constructions: Their form and meaning (pp.195–219). Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. (2006) What makes manner of motion salient? Explorations in linguistic typology, discourse, and cognition. InM. Hickmann, & S. Robert (Eds.), Space in languages: Linguistic systems and cognitive categories (pp.59–81). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 10.1075/tsl.66.05slo
    https://doi.org/10.1075/tsl.66.05slo [Google Scholar]
  13. Talmy, L.
    (1991) Path to realization: A typology of event conflation. Proceedings of the Seventeenth Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society (pp.480–519). Berkeley University of California.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Trueswell, J., & Papafragou, A.
    (2010) Perceiving and remembering events cross-linguistically: Evidence from dual-task paradigms. Journal of Memory and Language, 63(1), 64–82. 10.1016/j.jml.2010.02.006
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2010.02.006 [Google Scholar]
  15. Verkerk, A.
    (2014) The evolutionary dynamics of motion event encoding. Enschede: Ipskamp Drukkers. https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/20488979.pdf
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error