Spatial demonstratives and perceptual space: To reach or not to reach?

Michela Caldano, Kenny R. Coventry

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There is much debate regarding the relationship between spatial demonstratives (‘this’ or ‘that’) and perceptual space. While some have argued for a close mapping between the use of demonstratives and the peripersonal/extrapersonal space distinction (Coventry et al., 2008, 2014; Diessel, 2014), others have argued that distance from a speaker does not affect demonstrative choice (e.g. Kemmerer, 1999; Peeters, Hagoort, & Özyürek, 2015). We investigated the mapping between demonstratives and perceptual space across sagittal and lateral planes. Manipulation of object location on the lateral plane, and the hand used to point at objects (left, right) afforded a critical test of the the mapping between demonstratives and the reachability of objects. Indeed, we found that objects positioned at the same locations were described using this when the hand pointing at the object could reach it. Furthermore, we found no overall effects of handedness or visual field on demonstratives choice. This provides strong support for a mapping between perceptual space and the use of demonstratives. Such a mapping may help explain the influence of other variables on demonstrative choice, including interactive factors.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103989
Early online date22 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019

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