Experimental perspectives on spatial deictic expression acquisition in Thai


  • Nattanun Chanchaochai
  • Florian Schwarz




This study explored the role of perspectives on the interpretation of Thai spatialdeictic terms lˇaN ‘behind’ and nˆa: ‘in front of.’ We designed an experiment where the relativelocation of the experimenter and the participant differed across two sessions. Utilizing 5 objectsof 5 different colors arranged in a row, the experimenter asked the participant ‘The pen/balloonof which color is behind/in front of the x pen/balloon?,’ where x is the color of one of the middlethree items. Participants were native speakers of Thai, including 31 adults, 60 typicallydeveloping children, and 30 children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). We found thatfor Thai-speaking adults, the convention for 'behind/in front of' seems to involve object-basedallocentric viewpoint, relativizing the deictic notions as if the objects were facing themselves.However, the relative location of the experimenter hugely affected the adults who started offsitting opposite to the experimenter. In contrast, children with TD, egocentric interpretations,projecting their own front and back onto the objects, are preferred for non-fronted, visible objects.Verbal questions and mere presence of Speaker, i.e., without gazes nor gestures, areenough to introduce ambiguities between FoRs for adults and children with TD. Despite theirdifferences from adults in overall perspective resolution, TDs do take into account the experimenter’sviewpoint as a contextual resolution option. On the other hand, children with ASDwere not affected by experimenter’s perspective, and lacked a clear contrast between the oppositedeictic terms. They also seem to have general difficulties in grasping the basic relationalnature of the two deictic terms.




How to Cite

Chanchaochai, N., & Schwarz, F. (2023). Experimental perspectives on spatial deictic expression acquisition in Thai. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 27, 114–126. https://doi.org/10.18148/sub/2023.v27.1057

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