Why Fictive Motion Matters (briefly)

One of the interesting features of fictive motion is that the processing of fictive motion engages the mental resources used in performing the fictive motion, or at least correlates with time (saccades and scanning). This accords with the ideas of simulation semantics and spatial relations. Matlock & Richardson claim that distinct spatial relations can be evoked through fictive motion when contrastive literal recount of motion does not evoke that same degree of spatial relations (p. 12). They suggest that verbal and visual processes work together to interpret fictive motion. Consider the sentence, “Her hair ran all the way past her butt.” which likely evokes a visual representation of the back of a woman, long hair, her landmark butt, and the way that the hair traverses the distance.

Matlock argues that If we understand fictive motion as simulated motion it is probable that the simulation emerges from the collection of real world encyclopedic knowledge that we gather through our everyday experiences (p. 10). Consider this example “Apply the grout so that it runs between the tile” as compared to “Apply the grout between the tiles”. In the first example, the mental scanning likely causes the reader to mentally draw on our knowledge of stretches of tile and to follow them in a scanning motion for several tiles in a sequence. The second sentence probably evokes a more static image of two tiles with grout between them. This is interesting because it reflects the connection between mental processing, language, vision, and embodied experience.

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