Space in semantics and cognition

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Decades of research on the nature, acquisition, and mature use of spatial language reveal three major themes to be discussed in this chapter. First, spatial language is one of several cognitive systems that is specialized, reflecting pressures from the nature of our non-linguistic spatial representation and the nature of language as a symbolic system used for communication. The primitives for spatial language form a closed set and are likely to have evolved in response to these pressures. Second, acquisition involves selection from the set of primitives, partly via learning from input, with the latter subject to the same kind of maturational constraints as are found in phonology, morphology and syntax. Third, although having spatial language greatly increases representational power to express our thoughts, spatial language does not in any direct way change the underlying structure of human spatial thought.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSemantics
Subtitle of host publicationAn International Handbook of Natural Language Meaning volume 3
Publisherde Gruyter
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783110253382
ISBN (Print)9783110253375
StatePublished - Dec 19 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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