General programme, activity sheet

Thursday 8 September, 2016 Poster
Before and After with Temporal and Spatial Meaning in Language Acquisition
Speaker: Veronika Harmati-Pap, Hungarian Academy of Sciences - Research Institute for Linguistics; Pázmány Péter Catholic Univ.

Authors: Veronika Harmati-Pap


Do Hungarian postpositions with a spatial meaning have an influence on the appearance of temporal meaning during language acquisition? I observed the usage of postpositions in temporal and spatial meaning: előtt (‘in front of/before’) and mögött/után (‘behind/after’). The hypothesis was the conceptual interpretation of space predates the conceptual interpretation of time (Bowerman, 1983). The order of the acquisition of Hungarian locations as follows: ‘Before/in front of’ > ‘behind’, because of the phenomena called expediency. (Pléh, 2014) In temporal relations, the sense of the order-of-events (Crain & Thornton, 1998), the order can be predictable: ‘after’ > ‘before’. The experiment was divided into a spatial and a temporal part. In the spatial part I used toy furniture, and two puppets played hide and seek. The children helped the girl puppet to find the boy puppet in the room. In the temporal part, I used 3 picture sequences with 3 daily events on them. 15 children participated, from age 4;4 to 7. In the spatial task children used előtt ‘in front of’ by 42%, and mögött ‘behind’ by 35%. In the temporal part előtt ‘before’ appeared by 28% and után ‘after’ 42%. In the 15% of the data, children made up an extra scene before the first picture of the sequence instead of relating it to the forthcoming one, by using után ‘after’. We can say that these Hungarian data support the previous hypothesises about the order of acquisition of the postpositions. But can we find any influence? There is a main parallel feature: Expediency could not just be a determining feature in spatial concepts, but in temporal concepts as well. The main evidence for this is that it needs less cognitive effort from children to create a new event-scene to keep the order of events than switch this order.
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Coffee break and poster session
Place: Hall First floor area A

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