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Does the grammatical count/mass distinction affect semantic representations? Evidence from experiments in English and Japanese

Iwasaki, Noriko and Vinson, David P. and Vigliocco, Gabriella (2010) 'Does the grammatical count/mass distinction affect semantic representations? Evidence from experiments in English and Japanese.' Language and Cognitive Processes, 25 (2). pp. 189-223.

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Abstract

We investigate linguistic relativity effects by examining whether the grammatical count/mass distinction in English affects English speakers’ semantic representations of noun referents, as compared with those of Japanese speakers, whose language does not grammatically distinguish nouns for countability. We used two tasks which are sensitive to semantic similarity, error induction in picture naming and similarity judgements, upon nouns referring to food items (English words and their translation equivalents in Japanese), and contrasted English speakers’ performance to that of Japanese speakers. Results reveal that speakers of both languages are highly sensitive to semantic correlates of the English count/mass distinction, suggesting that the grammatical count/mass distinction in English does not affect English speakers’ semantic representations in a language-specific manner, contrary to predictions of linguistic relativity theories, in which this grammatical property should exert language-specific effects on English speakers’ semantic representations while they are engaged in language tasks.

Item Type: Articles
SOAS Departments & Centres: Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Department of Linguistics
ISSN: 01690965
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): 10.1080/01690960902978517
Depositing User: Noriko Iwasaki
Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2010 08:47
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/10401

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