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Conceptualizing landscapes through language: the role of native language and expertise in the representation of waterbody related terms


Purves, Ross S; Striedl, Philipp; Kong, Inhye; Majid, Asifa (2023). Conceptualizing landscapes through language: the role of native language and expertise in the representation of waterbody related terms. Topics in Cognitive Science, 15(3):560-583.

Abstract

Landscapes are essential to human life: they provide a multitude of material (food, water, pollination) and nonmaterial (beauty, tranquility, recreation) values. Their importance is enshrined in international conventions and treaties, committing signatories to protecting, monitoring, and managing all landscapes. Yet, relatively little is known about how people conceptualize “landscape” and its constituents. There is emerging evidence that conceptualizations of landscape entities may influence landscape management. This in turn raises the question as to how people speaking different languages, and with differing levels of expertise, may differ in conceptualizing landscape domains as a whole. In this paper, we investigated how people conceptualize landscape-related terms in a specific domain—waterbodies—by comparing German and English-speaking experts and nonexperts. We identified commonly used waterbody terms in sustainability discourses in both languages, and used those terms to collect sensory, motor, and affective ratings from participants. Speakers of all groups appear to conceptualize the domain of waterbody terms in comparable ways. Nevertheless, we uncovered subtle differences across languages for nonexperts. For example, there were differences in which waterbodies were associated with calm happiness in each language. In addition, olfaction seemingly plays a role in English speakers’ conceptualization of waterbodies, but not German speakers. Taken together, this suggests the ways in which people relate to landscape although shared in many respects may also be shaped in part by their specific language and culture.

Abstract

Landscapes are essential to human life: they provide a multitude of material (food, water, pollination) and nonmaterial (beauty, tranquility, recreation) values. Their importance is enshrined in international conventions and treaties, committing signatories to protecting, monitoring, and managing all landscapes. Yet, relatively little is known about how people conceptualize “landscape” and its constituents. There is emerging evidence that conceptualizations of landscape entities may influence landscape management. This in turn raises the question as to how people speaking different languages, and with differing levels of expertise, may differ in conceptualizing landscape domains as a whole. In this paper, we investigated how people conceptualize landscape-related terms in a specific domain—waterbodies—by comparing German and English-speaking experts and nonexperts. We identified commonly used waterbody terms in sustainability discourses in both languages, and used those terms to collect sensory, motor, and affective ratings from participants. Speakers of all groups appear to conceptualize the domain of waterbody terms in comparable ways. Nevertheless, we uncovered subtle differences across languages for nonexperts. For example, there were differences in which waterbodies were associated with calm happiness in each language. In addition, olfaction seemingly plays a role in English speakers’ conceptualization of waterbodies, but not German speakers. Taken together, this suggests the ways in which people relate to landscape although shared in many respects may also be shaped in part by their specific language and culture.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
06 Faculty of Arts > Zurich Center for Linguistics
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
Physical Sciences > Human-Computer Interaction
Social Sciences & Humanities > Linguistics and Language
Life Sciences > Cognitive Neuroscience
Physical Sciences > Artificial Intelligence
Uncontrolled Keywords:Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Neuroscience, Human-Computer Interaction, Linguistics and Language, Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
Language:English
Date:1 July 2023
Deposited On:01 Jun 2023 15:19
Last Modified:29 Apr 2024 01:38
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:1756-8757
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/tops.12652
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)