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COVALI : Perceptive and motor contraints to linguist variations

Themes and actions

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Team webmaster : Véronique BOULENGER, Alice Catherine ROY

  Motor constraints
  Relevance of visuospatial representations

Motor constraints


The "Projectory" project, initiated in 2018, is the result of the first collaboration between the DENDY and DTT axes of the laboratory. It originated from the observation of certain regularities in semantic typology: in the description of a trajectory, genetically distant languages highlight movement on a vertical axis with respect to other axes. This project aims to interrogate the execution of pointing movements using a psychophysical approach in order to establish parallels between the expression of trajectory in language and in biological movement.

A second project will be developed during the upcoming years. It will gather our multidisciplinary skills in the field of manual actions (e.g. reaching and grasping movements) in order to examine how the translinguistic regularities observed in the description of the action can reflect sensorimotor rules present in any manual action.


Relevance of visuospatial representations


The renewed collaboration between DENDY and DiLiS will question the predominance of visuospatial representations in the expression of concepts in many languages. In music, for example, we commonly use the metaphor of low and high tones even though pitch does not convey this spatial notion. In other languages, on the contrary, the notes are thin or thick (e.g. Turkish), or light or heavy (e.g. kpelle in Liberia). We will examine to what extent the language and the use of these metaphors are likely to tint the perception of melodies in space in the absence of any linguistic description.

Finally, we will also examine at the translinguistic level the significance of vision and hearing in the lexicalization of other sensory modalities. Recent observations point to the large number of sight words compared to words describing other sensory modalities and the frequent semantic associations of these words with conceptual domains such as cognition or attention. Our research will be part of this issue to examine languages which, to date, have not been the subject of research linking the predominance of visual perception in cognition to the lexicalization of other sensory perceptions or conceptual domains.


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