Situated Embodiment : Studies in the emergence of spatial meaning

Sammanfattning: What does it mean to know a language? How do children acquire language, seemingly spontaneously? How is intersubjective linguistic meaning made possible? How are people able to understand utterances which they have not heard before? General questions such as these are of primal concern for modem theoretical linguistics. At the same time the dominant theoretical approach to answering them, generativism, has given rise to persistent anomalies and confusions.The major thesis which this book advances is that in order to provide satisfactory answers to these and other similar questions, a novel theoretical framework is required - a framework which is based on the idea that our mastery and use of language is crucially dependent on the fact that we are beings which are embodied as well as situated within a culture of shared practices. Put in other words, the proposal is that the key to understanding the nature of linguistic competence and its acquisition by the child lies in the dialectical relationship between bodily dispositions and activities on the one hand, and sociocultural practices on the other. Hence, the name of the proposed framework: Situated embodiment.On a more specific level, the book describes the way the framework is applied to the study of a category of utterances present in any human language, namely utterances concerning the location or motion of people and things. For short: spatial utterances. With respect to the cross-linguistic semantic analyses and the developmental studies presented in this book, the proposed framework suggests a perspective on the linguistic phenomena which emphasizes their dynamic and interactional character. This is a perspective which is congruent with and adaptable to connectionist modeling, as demonstrated through two implementations. Hence, the subtitle of the book: Studies in the emergence of spatial meaning.