Depending on which theoretical paradigm is used, the relationship between spatial language and spatial thought could be presented in different ways. What is the nature of this relationship? Are spatial cognitive abilities a prerequisite for spatial language or, vice-versa, is it spatial language that shapes and affects our spatial reasoning? This paper is aimed at highlighting the dynamic interaction between spatial language and spatial cognition. That is, we need some spatial abilities in order to acquire spatial language. We share most of these core spatial abilities with other animals. These structures are the basis for spatial language, and this explains the presence of universal features in spatial descriptions in languages all over the world. On the other hand, the acquisition of language affects human spatial cognition, making us species-specific. This coevolutionary relationship holds true both in phylogeny and in ontogeny. Only the ontogenetic perspective will be discussed in this paper by means of a comparison between spoken and sign languages. In particular, both of these linguistic modalities rely on the same spatial reasoning, and therefore have universal structures for the encoding of space. However, data showing that different language modalities affect cognition in a different way will also be presented. That is to say, although there are universal structures in the linguistic encoding of space, the learning of a sign language will affect spatial reasoning in a peculiar way, leading to a significant enhancement in spatial cognition. In light of the data reviewed, it seems that the relationship between language and thought is complex and bidirectional. Spatial language is grounded in our biology and in our cognition; on the other hand spatial language itself affects spatial cognition.
|Titolo della pubblicazione ospite||SEGNARE, PARLARE, INTENDERSI: MODALITÀ E FORME|
|Numero di pagine||18|
|Stato di pubblicazione||Published - 2012|