Electronic versions


  • 2020 Linguistic Spatial reference

    Accepted author manuscript, 286 KB, PDF document

    Embargo ends: 31/12/99

Spatial reference systems have been investigated across many different languages and cultures, partly with the explicit aim of identifying preferred ways of thinking and talking about space in a particular culture. This paper addresses variability within a given language (and culture) by looking at diversity across everyday specialist domains. Wherever a domain requires people to interact with space in a specific way, conventions for thinking and talking about space arise that are far less common outside those domains. For instance, in sailing it is almost impossible to talk about ‘forward movement’, due to the various forces acting on the boat; this requires the sailor to calculate a useful course relative to the goal direction. Based on a range of examples such as this one, this paper explores customary ways of talking about space across various domains, and highlights the underlying spatial-conceptual reference systems. This demonstrates how situational domains call for different reference systems, contrary to beliefs that entire cultures can be associated with stable preferences for a specific reference system.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLinguistics Vanguard
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 7 Sep 2020
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