Edited by Janine Berns and Elena Tribushinina
[Linguistics in the Netherlands 36] 2019
► pp. 83–98
Does reported speech influence listeners’ choice of perspective in the interpretation of spatial prepositions?
Linguistic cues can encourage adults to adopt an other-centric rather than an egocentric perspective. This study investigated whether the presence of direct speech compared to indirect speech influences listeners’ choice of perspective when interpreting the Dutch spatial prepositions voor ‘in front of’ and achter ‘behind’. Dutch adults and 10 to 12-year-old children were tested in a sentence-picture verification task. Contrary to expectations, we found no difference between direct and indirect speech (Study 1), nor did we find a difference between reported and non-reported speech (Study 2). Most adult listeners adopted the contrasting perspective of the speaker, irrespective of how the information about the reported speech was expressed. We did find a difference between adults and children: children adopted the other person’s perspective less often than adults did. Overall, the results suggest that the mere presence of a reported speaker already is a cue for taking this speaker’s perspective.