Julia Misersky

Understanding events is essential to human cognition, and we use language to describe and reason events we experience on a daily basis. All events can be characterised as having a beginning and end time. Grammatical aspect can frame event time by focussing on or defocussing boundaries of events. Interestingly, grammatical aspect is realised differently across languages, which may influence how speakers of different languages conceptualise events and their duration. This, in turn, may affect how we pay attention to different features of events such as motion, goals, people, and objects. In my PhD project, I build on this and focus on how language background, and specifically grammatical aspect, may modulate our processing and understanding of events. Using a cross-linguistic experimental approach and by adopting a variety of techniques such as EEG and virtual reality (VR), I aim to go beyond finding out whether languages affect (event) cognition or not. Instead, I study when – i.e., under which conditions and at what level of processing – we see language effects both within people with the same language background and between speakers of different languages.

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