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Functional Features in Language and SpaceInsights from Perception, Categorization, and Development$
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Laura Carlson and Emile van der Zee

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199264339

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199264339.001.0001

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Language is Grounded in Action

Language is Grounded in Action

(p.11) 2 Language is Grounded in Action
Functional Features in Language and Space



Oxford University Press

This chapter describes what appear to be insurmountable theoretical and empirical problems with the current standard psychological approach to meaning based on abstract, a modal, and arbitrary symbols. It offers an alternative theory of meaning grounded in human action, and the Indexical Hypothesis, which describes how language is understood in terms of action. The chapter reviews some recent research supporting the hypothesis, including the Action-sentence Compatibility Effect, an effect that shows that the mere understanding of a sentence can interfere with taking an action in direction contrary to that implied by the sentence. This direct link between understanding and action is difficult for abstract symbol theory to accommodate, whereas it provides strong support for the Indexical Hypothesis.

Keywords:   Indexical Hypothesis, meaning, Action-sentence Compatibility Effect, understanding, action

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