Interdisziplinäres Zentrum für Kognitive Sprachforschung

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Abstract Allen, Ozyurek, Kita, Furman, Brown & Ishizuka

This study investigates the development of on-line conceptualization of motion events during speaking as evidenced by speech and co-speech gestures of speakers of typologically different languages. Ten different descriptions of motion events involving simultaneous manner and path were elicited from a total of 80 Turkish and 80 English speakers including 3-, 5-, and 9-year olds as well as adults. Turkish- and English-speaking adults and children packaged linguistic elements of motion events in syntactically different ways: English speakers typically expressed both manner and path in one clause whereas Turkish speakers used two clauses to do so. Gesture analysis showed similar differences between the adult speakers of the two languages. English-speaking adults most often expressed manner and path in one gesture, whereas Turkish speakers more typically used two gestures. However, both 3- and 5-year old English- and Turkish-speaking children preferred two gestures - segmenting manner and path - revealing especially differences between English-speaking adults and children. We hypothesize that these differences occur because children conceptualize packaging of semantic elements of motion events at the word or phrase level, whereas adults do so at the clause level.