A well-known typological observation is the dominance of subject-initial word orders, SOV and SVO, across the world's languages. Recent findings from gestural language creation paradigms offer possible explanations for the prevalence of SOV. When asked to gesture transitive events with an animate agent and inanimate patient, gesturers tend to produce SOV order, regardless of their native language biases. Interestingly, when the patient is animate, gesturers shift away from SOV to use of other orders, like SVO and OSV. Two competing hypotheses (...) have been proposed for this switch: the noisy channel account and the role conflict account. We set out to distinguish between these two hypotheses, disentangling event reversibility and patient animacy, by looking at gestural sequences for events with two inanimate participants. We replicated the previous findings of a preference for SOV order when describing animate-inanimate, irreversible events as well as a decrease in the use of SOV when presented with animate-animate, reversible events. Accompanying the drop in SOV, in a novel condition we observed an increase in the use of SVO and OSV orders when describing events involving two animate entities. In sum, we find that the observed avoidance of SOV order in gestural language creation paradigms when the event includes an animate agent and patient is driven by the animacy of the participants rather than the reversibility of the event. We suggest that findings from gestural creation paradigms are not automatically linkable to spoken language typology. (shrink)
Any theory of semantic cognition is also a theory of concepts. There are two ways to construe the models presented by Rogers & McClelland (R&M) in Semantic Cognition. If we construe the input and output representations as concepts, then the models capture knowledge acquisition within a stable set of concepts. If we construe the hidden-layer representations as concepts, the models provide a simulation of conceptual change.