Publication details [#3531]

Clausner, Timothy C. 2009. Conceptualization of spatial altitude guided by language, perception and imagination. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 1 (9).
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language


Visual information displays typically make use of perceptual cues but their design rarely considers the role of language, semantics, and mental simulation. Graphs in which height on the vertical axis is correlated with greater conceptual magnitude seem natural, even obvious. Language conventionally expresses magnitude in terms of vertical space. The words "high" and "low" express meaning about spatial relations. Thus language can be a means of conceptualizing spatial altitude, likewise, vision can by perceived distance to an object, enable spatial reasoning and navigation. Metaphors in cognitive semantic theory have largely been treated as relations between knowledge domains. The metaphor MORE IS UP is a correspondence between vertical space and magnitude. The metaphor is so productive that nearly any conceptualization involving magnitude can be expressed using words about vertical space. The metaphor is also expressible as visual forms, such as storm severity graphed as height on a vertical scale. A wide range of basic sensory experiences (e.g, spatial distance, brightness, heat) can be understood in terms of a magnitude scale. (Timothy Clausner)