Starting at the end: The importance of goals in spatial language

Laura Lakusta, Barbara Landau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

175 Scopus citations


We explored the linguistic encoding of Paths in children between the ages of three and seven, in children with Williams syndrome, and in normal adults, focusing specifically on Source and Goal Paths. The results showed an asymmetry, with Goal Paths regularly and systematically encoded, but Source Paths often omitted. This pattern occurred among all groups and across a broad range of domains including Manner of Motion, Change of Possession, Change of State, and Attachment/Detachment events. It also occurred whether participants spontaneously described events or were asked to use a specific verb that biased them towards a Goal or Source Path (e.g. 'give' vs. 'get'). The results are discussed in terms of non-linguistic foundations of spatial language and the linguistic mapping biases that arise when we describe what we see.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-33
Number of pages33
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2005


  • Conceptual representations
  • Events
  • Goal
  • Paths
  • Semantics
  • Source
  • Spatial language
  • Syntax
  • Williams syndrome


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