Action and affordances in nominal classifier systems


Although interdisciplinary research is increasingly being conducted on language and action within cognitive neuroscience, no one has looked into how the typological study of grammatical categories can be explained in terms of sensorimotor interactional learning. In this presentation cognitive semantic bases of nominal classifier systems are analysed in the light of the latest neuroscientific research within embodied cognition. Classifiers are found in unrelated languages in disparate areas of the world and are based on a restricted set of recurring semantic domains, e.g. an object’s size, material, consistency, shape, dimension, inherent orientation, or function values. They therefore represent a justified area of study for general human cognition. It is demonstrated that embodied knowledge is necessary in order to use these grammatical components correctly in communication, relying on situatedness and perception in the conceptualisation process. Hypotheses of neural activation sites are proposed that accord with their modes of acquisition.

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