Language-specific encoding of placement events in gestures

Gullberg, M. (2011). Language-specific encoding of placement events in gestures. In J. Bohnemeyer, & E. Pederson (Eds.), Event representation in language and cognition (pp. 166-188). New York: Cambridge University Press.
This study focuses on the effect of the semantics of placement verbs on placement event representations. Specifically, it explores to what extent the semantic properties of habitually used verbs guide attention to certain types of spatial information. French, which typically uses a general placement verb (mettre, 'put'), is contrasted with Dutch, which uses a set of fine-grained (semi-)obligatory posture verbs (zetten, leggen, 'set/stand', 'lay'). Analysis of the concomitant gesture production in the two languages reveals a patterning toward two distinct, language-specific event representations. The object being placed is an essential part of the Dutch representation, while French speakers instead focus only on the (path of the) placement movement. These perspectives permeate the entire placement domain regardless of the actual verb used.
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