Script relativity hypothesis: evidence from reading with different spatial layouts and varied lexical tone

Winskel, Heather (2022) Script relativity hypothesis: evidence from reading with different spatial layouts and varied lexical tone. Reading and Writing, 35. pp. 1323-1341.

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A contemporary question is whether the script we read in affects our cognition, termed the script relativity hypothesis (Pae in: Script effects as the hidden drive of the mind, cognition, and culture, Springer, Berlin, 2020). The aim of this review is to examine variation in spatial layout (interword spaces and linear-nonlinear configuration) and representation of lexical tone across scripts and whether disparities in those features affect cognition. Both script features are strong candidates for potentially producing script relativity effects. Readers of densely crowded nonlinear scripts (e.g., Thai, Sinhala) may have heightened visuo-perceptual abilities in comparison to readers of linear scripts (e.g., Roman script). Tonal languages vary in terms of both their relative complexity and whether they orthographically encode this feature in their script. This variation may produce differences in sensitivity to tone perception and auditory perceptual skills in readers of tonal languages that do and do not orthographically represent tone in the script and in contrast to readers of non-tonal languages. The empirical research reviewed tends to support a weaker version of the script relativity hypothesis, where there is a channeling effect on attention due to script-specific features while actually reading. The question is still open to debate as to whether this attention allocation translates into more profound, nonlinguistic cognitive consequences. Notably, the research reviewed was not specifically designed to investigate the script relativity hypothesis. In order to investigate longer-term cognitive consequences of this script variation, carefully designed studies need to be conducted with this overriding goal in mind. Future research needs to include other lesser studied languages and their scripts so that we can ascertain what are common cognitive patterns or processes and what are shaped by variation in script-specific features.

Item ID: 72358
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1573-0905
Keywords: Interword spaces, Lexical tone, Nonlinearity, Script relativity hypothesis, Spatial layout
Copyright Information: © The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V. 2021.
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2022 14:16
FoR Codes: 47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4704 Linguistics > 470406 Historical, comparative and typological linguistics @ 100%
SEO Codes: 13 CULTURE AND SOCIETY > 1302 Communication > 130202 Languages and linguistics @ 100%
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