From Event Representation to Linguistic Meaning

Topics in Cognitive Science 13 (1):224-242 (2021)
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Abstract

A fundamental aspect of human cognition is the ability to parse our constantly unfolding experience into meaningful representations of dynamic events and to communicate about these events with others. How do we communicate about events we have experienced? Influential theories of language production assume that the formulation and articulation of a linguistic message is preceded by preverbal apprehension that captures core aspects of the event. Yet the nature of these preverbal event representations and the way they are mapped onto language are currently not well understood. Here, we review recent evidence on the link between event conceptualization and language, focusing on two core aspects of event representation: event roles and event boundaries. Empirical evidence in both domains shows that the cognitive representation of events aligns with the way these aspects of events are encoded in language, providing support for the presence of deep homologies between linguistic and cognitive event structure.

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