The influence of movement, alignment, and orientation on the comprehension of spatial p-positions in English and Finnish

Kenny Coventry, Anne M. Frias-Lindqvist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


In contrast to English, Finnish has several postpositions which indicate in front of locations (edella, edessa) and behind locations (takana, jaljessa and perassa). Based on predictions generated from findings from other prepositions in English, and following the prediction by Nikanne (2003) that some postpositions mark motion while others do not, an experiment was designed to examine the influence of movement, alignment, and orientation of located and reference objects on the comprehension of in front of and behind in English and the corresponding Finnish postpositions. Native speakers of English and Finnish had to rate the appropriateness of sentences containing these terms to describe pictures of cars at various positions on a roundabout. The results show similarity between "in front of" and 7quot;behind" terms across languages. While movement does distinguish between "behind" terms in Finnish, in both Finnish and English movement only affected the acceptability of "in front of" and "behind" when reference frame conflicts were present.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-375
Number of pages19
JournalSpatial Cognition and Computation
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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