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How to speak “geocentric” in an “egocentric” language: A multimodal study among Ngigua-Spanish bilinguals and Spanish monolinguals in a rural community of Mexico

Abstract : It has recently been shown that individuals residing in rural, indigenous communities rely on geocentric conceptualizations of space, e.g., north/south/east/west, even after they have shifted to a language that is known to favour egocentric conceptualizations, e.g., right/left. In this paper we explore how this combination works in practice by conducting a study in a previously non-investigated indigenous community of Mexico, the Ngiguas. We used a verbal localization task for community-scale relations. We filmed the responses of early bilinguals in Ngigua (Otomanguean) and in Spanish as well as of a control group of Spanish monolinguals from the same rural community. Statistical analysis of speech and co-speech gestures reveals that bilinguals favour geocentric gestures and direct pointing in both languages, associating them with topological and deictic terms. Against our predictions, Spanish monolinguals also use high rates of geocentric gestures that they frequently combine with cardinal terms. In sum, the Ngigua data show that geocentric conceptualizations can be transmitted to monolingual generations via co-speech gestures, including in a language where egocentric conceptualizations prevail in other settings.
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-02417137
Contributor : Evangelia Adamou <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, December 18, 2019 - 8:59:16 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, June 23, 2020 - 8:50:12 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Thursday, March 19, 2020 - 1:57:16 PM

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Erendira Calderon, Stefano de Pascale, Evangelia Adamou. How to speak “geocentric” in an “egocentric” language: A multimodal study among Ngigua-Spanish bilinguals and Spanish monolinguals in a rural community of Mexico. Language Sciences, Elsevier, 2019, 74, pp.24-46. ⟨10.1016/j.langsci.2019.04.001⟩. ⟨halshs-02417137⟩

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