Title

Above, on, or shang (上)? Language and spatial representations among English–Mandarin bilinguals

Publication Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

11-2017

Abstract

This study investigated if exposure to spatial language could affect spatial cognition in English-Mandarin bilinguals by focusing on contact/noncontact distinctions, an area that has been a source of contention in the language-and-thought literature. Sixty-three participants were first primed with sentences containing spatial terms (e.g., above, on) before performing a spatial decision task. Approximately half of the participants (n = 33) were primed in English; for the remaining participants (n = 30), primes comprising Mandarin spatial terms―which mark spatial distinctions differently than in English (e.g., shang in Mandarin signifies both above and on in English)―were employed instead. Our findings revealed that participants’ performance was influenced by spatial primes in the English experiment, thereby proffering evidence for thinking-for-speaking effects. However, these findings were not mirrored for the Mandarin experiment, confirming that the contact/noncontact specificity of spatial terms may have been instrumental in engendering the thinking-for-speaking effects observed in English.

Keywords

Spatial cognition, Spatial language, Thinking for speaking

Discipline

East Asian Languages and Societies | Linguistics

Publication

Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics

Volume

79

Issue

8

First Page

2235

Last Page

2245

ISSN

1943-3921

Identifier

10.3758/s13414-017-1433-3

Publisher

Springer Verlag (Germany)

Additional URL

http://doi.org./10.3758/s13414-017-1433-3

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