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See, say and remember: Motion events in witness interviews, translation and memory

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The impact of particular languages on perception and memory for motion events is investigated in two typologically different languages, Spanish and English. In a set of similarity judgment and recognition memory tasks speakers resort to certain atomic, language-independent features of motion rather than to complex, language-specific lexical concepts. Certain contexts of use do provide evidence for the impact of language-specific effects on memory, however, and contrastive examples from the two languages are given from both monolingual and bilingual speakers. The results enable us to tease apart universal features of language from those that are language-specific. I illustrate further the ways in which these typological differences affect the translation of motion events in witness interviews. The findings have relevance for claims of universality in the conceptualization of events and for the interplay between language and cognition in relation to motion events.

This talk is part of the Cambridge University Linguistic Society (LingSoc) series.

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