McDonough, L., Choi, S., & Mandler, J. M. (2003).
Understanding spatial relations: Flexible infants, lexical adults.
Cognitive Psychology, 46,229-259.
Concepts of containment, support, and degree of fit were investigated
using nonverbal, preferential-looking tasks with 9- to 14-month-old
infants and adults who were fluent in either English or Korean. Two
contrasts were tested: tight containment vs. loose support
(grammaticized as "in" and"on" in English by spatial prepositions and
"kkita" and "nohta" in Korean by spatial verbs) and tight containment
vs. loose containment (both grammaticized as "in" in English but
separately as "kkita" and "nehta" in Korean). Infants categorized both
contrasts, suggesting conceptual readiness for learning such spatial
semantics in either language. English-speaking adults categorized tight
containment vs. loose support, but not tight vs. loose containment.
However, Korean-speaking adults were successful at this latter contrast,
which is lexicalized in their language. The adult data suggest that some
spatial relations that are salient during the preverbal stage become
lesss salient if language does not systematically encode them.
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