Preverbal Spatial Cognition and Language-Specific Input: Categories of Containment and Support
This chapter examines how preverbal infants may be ready to acquire the language-specific semantics on the containment and support relations. Specifically, the study is directed at understanding the kinds of spatial categories that are formed preverbally and how these interact with the language-specific semantic categories which will later be expressed as either verbs (in Korean) or prepositions (in English). It shows that infants analyze the containment and support relations in different ways. Whereas infants categorically distinguished the containment relation on the basis of the tight-fit feature, they did not do so for the support relation. One explanation is proposed: that the two relations differ in the degree of homogeneity of the spatial configuration, and perhaps that is why subdivision of the relation by tight-fit feature is easier for the containment relation than for the support relation.
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