UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


Linguistics Seminar - Anna Papafragou

03 March 2021, 3:00 pm–5:00 pm

Linguistics seminar

Event representations in language and cognition

Event Information

Open to



Richard Jardine
The seminar will take place on Zoom. Please contact the organiser for the sign up details.

Seminar Title: Event representations in language and cognition

Abstract: Humans are surprisingly adept at interpreting what is happening around them, even from a single glance. Beginning at infancy, we are able to recognize dynamic events, the roles that various objects and entities play in these events and the temporal and causal components that make up events. Furthermore, we use language to describe our dynamic experiences in ways that reflect our underlying event understanding. Despite the central role of events in human cognition and language, the study of events within cognitive science has until recently remained fragmented. In this talk, I combine psycholinguistic, developmental and cross-linguistic approaches to address a series of key questions about the nature of events: What is the form of conceptual event representations? How do such representations make contact with language in both novice (child) and experienced (adult) communicators? Does cross-linguistic variation in how events are encoded affect the way we think about events in the world? Our findings show that abstract properties of event structure underlie both the conceptual and the linguistic encoding of event structure. Furthermore, the way learners acquire event language supports the presence of deep homologies between linguistic and non-linguistic event architecture. Finally, children and adults from different linguistic communities represent and remember events in similar ways, despite cross-linguistic variation in how events are encoded.  Together, these results highlight novel connections between abstract event structure in language and cognition and bear on broad theories about how thought is related to language.

About the Speaker

Anna Papafragou

Professor at University of Pennsylvania

More about Anna Papafragou