Spatial agency bias and word order flexibility : a comparison of 14 European languages
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The spatial agency bias predicts that people whose native language is rightward written will predominantly envisage action along the same direction. Two mechanisms contribute jointly to this asymmetry: (a) an embodied process related to writing/reading; (b) a linguistic regularity according to which sentence subjects (typically the agent) tend to precede objects (typically the recipient). Here we test a novel hypothesis in relation to the second mechanism, namely, that this asymmetry will be most pronounced in languages with rigid word order. A preregistered study on 14 European languages (n = 420) varying in word order flexibility confirmed a rightward bias in drawings of interactions between two people (agent and recipient). This bias was weaker in more flexible languages, confirming that embodied and linguistic features of language interact in producing it.
Suitner , C , Maass , A , Navarrete , E , Formanowicz , M , Bratanova , B , Cervone , C , Hakoköngäs , J E , Kuppens , T , Lipourli , E , Rakić , T , Scatolon , A , Teixeira , C P , Wang , Z , Sobral , M P & Carrier , A 2021 , ' Spatial agency bias and word order flexibility : a comparison of 14 European languages ' , Applied Psycholinguistics , vol. First View . https://doi.org/10.1017/S0142716420000831
Copyright © The Author (s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.