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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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Form and Function

Form and Function

(p.331) 21 Form and Function
Functional Features in Language and Space


Oxford University Press

This chapter addresses the question of how we can account for spatial language. Perceptual features, functional features, schemas, context, and affordances are among the bases proposed. It is argued that all can be operative. A survey of research from a variety of entity domains, especially natural kinds, artifacts, bodies, scenes, events, abstract categories, and design, and of relational domains, especially spatial relations, shows that perceptual features, especially form or structure, allow inferences to function, forming perceptual–functional units or affordances. Language abets inferences from form to function. These perceptual–functional units account for the coherence of category features and provide the basis for causal reasoning.

Keywords:   spatial language, perception, spatial relations, language, functions, causal reasoning

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