What you see is (not necessarily) what you say

Presented by Dr Inés Antón-Méndez

Discipline of Linguistics, UNE

12:00 Thursday 27th August 2015

Oorala Lecture Theatre, UNE


The effect of visual prominence on speakers' choices is investigated by contrasting the impact of both visual and linguistic manipulations on descriptions of pictures that can be construed in accordance with one of two complementary perspectives (e.g., a cop chasing a robber can be described either from a chasing or a fleeing perspective). The pictures were preceded by a verb pointing towards one of the two perspectives (linguistic prime) and a preview of one of the two characters (visual prime). The results show that the visual manipulation affects gaze direction regardless of which perspective had been linguistically primed, but it only affects verbal descriptions in the absence of a linguistic prime. Linguistically priming one of the perspectives, on the other hand, has a reliable effect on both gaze direction and verbal descriptions. These results suggest that visual salience does not influence linguistic choices directly as has often been claimed, but linguistic intention does influence where the speaker looks.