The Relationship between Language and Thought in Motion Event Cognition in Second Language Acquisition

Soo-Ok Kweon 1 ,
Author Information & Copyright
*Corresponding Author : Professor, Division of Humanities & Social Sciences, POSTECH, 77 Chengam-ro, Nam-gu Pohang, Kyungpook 37673, Korea, E-mail:

ⓒ Copyright 2019 Language Education Institute, Seoul National University. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Received: Oct 12, 2019 ; Revised: Nov 07, 2019 ; Accepted: Dec 16, 2019

Published Online: Dec 31, 2019


This study aims to investigate the relationship between language and thought in motion events encoding (linguistic perspective) and the perception (non-linguistic perspective) of Korean learners of English. The purpose is to determine whether L2 learners will shift toward L2-based conceptual representations when they can switch the linguistic behavior of encoding motion from their L1 (Korean) to L2 (English). A verbal description task to test linguistic switch and a similarity rating task to test conceptual change are used with animations that describe motion events. Results show that although the linguistic switch to the L2 canonical type of description occurs, the switch does not result in cognitive restructuring by L2 learners when language is not involved. The results will be discussed with respect to “thinking for speaking” and the linguistic relativity dubbed the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.

Keywords: motion events; L2 acquisition; thinking for speaking; linguistic relativity; language and thought



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