Vectors and frames of reference: Evidence from Seri and Yucatec
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Most linguistic and cognitive representations of space depend on frames of reference (FoRs). We show that FoRs play an equally important role in representations of the orientation of entities and representations of their location and direction of motion. We propose that orientation is conceptually encoded, not in terms of metaphorical path functions (Jackendof 1983), but in terms of vectors. Equipped with the notion of vectors, we introduce a distinction between two classes of FoRs: classical “angular-anchored” FoRs and the previously unrecognised “head-anchored” FoRs. In English, angular-anchored relative FoRs dominate in both locative and orientation descriptions. In contrast, in Seri and Yucatec, two indigenous languages of Mexico, object-centred angularanchored FoRs dominate in locative descriptions, but head-anchored FoRs dominate in orientation descriptions.