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Semantic informativeness of up and down in English particle verbs: insights from the language of the blind and the sighted

Geld, Renata; Stanojević, Mateusz-Milan
Semantic informativeness of up and down in English particle verbs: insights from the language of the blind and the sighted // 13th International Cognitive Linguistics Conference
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Ujedinjeno Kraljevstvo, 2015. (predavanje, međunarodna recenzija, sažetak, znanstveni)

Semantic informativeness of up and down in English particle verbs: insights from the language of the blind and the sighted

Geld, Renata ; Stanojević, Mateusz-Milan

Vrsta, podvrsta i kategorija rada
Sažeci sa skupova, sažetak, znanstveni

13th International Cognitive Linguistics Conference

Mjesto i datum
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Ujedinjeno Kraljevstvo, 20-25.07.2015

Vrsta sudjelovanja

Vrsta recenzije
Međunarodna recenzija

Ključne riječi
Particle verbs; informativeness; blind; sighted; construal

When blind and sighted users of English as L2 are asked to make sense of the figurative meanings of English particle verbs (PVs), they may rely more on the particle or on the lexical part of the verb. This depends on a number of factors (Geld 2009), such as the extent to which their first language is satellite-or verb-framed, and whether the PVs contain semantically light, schematic verbs (take in or put in ; when speakers more readily rely on the particle) or semantically heavier verbs (cut in or break in ; when speakers predominantly rely on the verb). The particles in and out have been shown to have a different degree of informativeness (semantic contribution in relation to other components in the composite whole): out was more informative than in (Geld 2011), which was ascribed to the relative default (experiential) status of being inside a container as opposed to being outside a container. Blind users of English as L2 exhibit a bias towards topological determination (reliance on the particle), which may point to the importance of space in their extraordinary experience (Geld and Čutić 2014). In this paper we explore the informativeness of up and down in 12 figurative senses of PVs coupling a heavy or light verb (go, put, take, break, cut, and pull) with the particle on a sample of 20 blind and 20 sighted users of English as L2 with similar backgrounds and profiles. We used an adapted version of an instrument previously validated in studies with blind participants (Geld and Čutić 2014), and we analyzed the answers quantitatively and qualitatively. The quantitative results show that there was a difference in the number of answers for up and down (F=18.582 ; p<0.05) in the whole sample. There were significantly more answers for down, which suggests that it was more informative than up. The qualitative analysis reveals that the participants do partly indicate the grammaticalization path from literal readings, where particles denote upward or downward motion, to their aspectual readings of either inception or completion. Moreover, the meanings of down seemed much easier to construe for both groups of participants. We claim that the difference in the informativeness between up and down is due to their experiential status within the primary scene (Grady and Johnson 1997). Whereas being up and standing erect refers to a basic and default human experience, being down refers to an extraordinary, non-default situation. The embodiment of the non-default situation is more readily apparent (cf. e.g. the array of special physical sensations when you are down – e.g. crawling on all fours – as opposed to the default status of being up when walking). Overall, our results once again confirm that strategic construal in L2 and construal in L1 for the blind and sighted speakers hinges on using the same cognitive processes (but possibly to different extents). References Geld, Renata. 2009. “From topology to verbal aspect: Strategic construal of in and out in English particle verbs.” Ph. D. dissertation, Zagreb: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb. Geld, Renata. 2011. “Topological vs. lexical determination in English Particle Verbs (PVs).” Language Value2 (2): 49–75. Geld, Renata, and Anita Čutić. 2014. “Salience of topology in the strategic construal of English particle verbs in blind users of English.” In Language as Information: Proceedings from the CALS Conference 2012, edited by Anita Peti-Stantić and Mateusz-Milan Stanojević, Peter Lang Edition, 13–30. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.

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Filozofski fakultet, Zagreb