På, i, for or til – a comparative analysis of preposition anomalies in L1 and L2 Danish

Line Burholt Kristensen, Department of Nordic Studies and Linguistics, University of Copenhagen
Marie-Louise Lind-Sørensen, Åbo Akademi University


Prepositions in a second language are notoriously difficult to master (Jarvis & Odlin 2000, Jarvis & Pavlenko 2008). Even advanced learners of Danish as L2 use prepositions in unconventional ways. Unconventional use is also found in texts by native speakers of Danish. Native speaker variation could be due to regional, group-based and individual differences (Brøndal 1940), but may also be caused by crosslinguistic influence, typically from English (cf. Gottlieb 2004).

In this study, we analyze the quantitative and qualitative similarities and differences between preposition anomalies in L1 Danish and L2 Danish. The study is based on two corpora of naturally occurring texts: 27 essays by Danish high school students (a total of 42.132 words) and 28 texts by students studying Danish at a language school in Copenhagen (CEFR level A2- B1), who have English as their L1 (5.685 words). We compare the frequency and types of anomalies for four frequent prepositions in Danish: til, i, and for. These four prepositions have a partial semantic and distributional overlap with the English prepositions to, in, on and for.

The results show that preposition anomalies are 10 times more frequent in the L2 texts, but that both L1 texts and L2 texts exhibit cases of:

    • omitted prepositions, e.g. omitted in tvivler [på] om (English translation: ’doubt [on] whether’),
    • superfluous prepositions, e.g. anomalous use of til in besøge til, (English translation: ‘visit to’),
    • confusion of two prepositions, e.g. anomalous use of fra instead of af in glemt fra [-> af] deres familie (English translation: ‘forgotten from [->by] their family’).

Some anomalies are characteristic of L2 texts, e.g. overgeneralized use of til and i. Other anomalies appear to be exclusive to L1 texts. Crosslinguistic influence seems to occur in both L1 and L2 texts, but with differential manifestation, such that L2 users seem more affected by phonological similarities between Danish and English than L1 users (cf. Haspelmath 2009).

We discuss the similarities and differences in the conventional use of prepositions on the basis of syntactic and semantic analyses, focusing on valency bound prepositions and spatialtemporal prepositions.



Brøndal, Viggo. 1940. Præpositionernes Theori. Indledning til en rationel Betydningslære. København: Ejnar Munksgaard.

Gottlieb, Henrik 2004. Danish echoes of English. Nordic Journal of English Studies, 3(2), 39–65.

Haspelmath, Martin. 2009. II. Lexical borrowing: Concepts and issues. I Haspelmath, Martin and Tadmor, Uri (red.) Loanwords in the World’s Languages: A Comparative Handbook, Berlin, New York: De Gruyter Mouton.

Jarvis, Scott & Terence Odlin. 2000. Morphological type, spatial reference, and language transfer. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 22(4). 535–556.

Jarvis, Scott & Aneta Pavlenko. 2008. Crosslinguistic influence in language and cognition. New York & London: Routledge.

Lund, Karen. 1997. Lærer alle dansk på samme måde? Specialpædagogisk forlag.

Understanding primary school children’s narrative listening comprehension: the effect of background noise, linguistic background, socio-economic status and cognition

Johanna Carlie, Department of Logopedics, Phoniatrics and Audiology, Lund University


A quarter of Sweden’s primary school children have Swedish as their second language (sequential bilinguals). These children can have trouble reaching primary school’s learning goals to a greater extent than children with Swedish as their first language. Comprehension of the school language is essential for school success. Several factors influence children’s language comprehension: language background, socio-economic status (SES), complex working memory, phonological short-term memory and background noise. During early primary school, comprehension is often assessed though narratives.

The aim of this cross-sectional study was to explore how background babble noise affects narrative listening comprehension in children attending schools in socio-economically disadvantaged areas, and how factors known to influence language proficiency impact their comprehension. Our hypothesis was that children with less exposure to Swedish would be more negatively affected by background noise.

85 typically developing children attending school grades 2 and 3 (Swedish system; ages 7-9 years) in low-SES areas completed a narrative listening comprehension task (LFM) in two listening conditions (quiet and background babble noise), a crosslinguistic nonword repetition test and a backward digit span test. They were divided into three language background groups (sequential bilinguals, simultaneous bilinguals and monolinguals), and three parental education levels (primary school or below, secondary education and tertiary education). Results are based on two linear mixed models: one for the whole sample (n = 85) and, to include duration of Swedish exposure, one for only the sequential bilinguals (n = 53).

In the whole sample, preliminary results show that listening condition is the factor that influenced LFM performance the most, closely followed by nonword repetition accuracy. Parental education level and language background also had a significant influence and backward digit span performance showed a clear trend to influence LFM performance. In the sequential bilingual sample, listening condition followed by nonword repetition accuracy and parental education level had a significant influence on LFM performance. Both backward digit span and duration of Swedish exposure were non-significant. There were no significant interaction effects between the included factors in either model.

The presence of background babble noise has a large influence on primary school children’s narrative listening comprehension. In contradiction to our hypothesis, the magnitude of the negative effect of background babble noise did not depend on factors affecting linguistic proficiency (language background, SES, phonological short-term memory and complex working memory).

On the development of metalinguistic syntax intervention to improve sentence and reading comprehension in Danish Grade 5 students

Rikke Vang Christensen, University of Copenhagen
Martin Hauerberg Olsen, University College Copenhagen
Mads Poulsen, University of Copenhagen


This study presents the basic ideas and piloting results behind a sentence level syntax intervention for middle school students with mild to severe language difficulties.

The intervention study is part of a larger research effort to understand to what extent children’s reading comprehension depends on their syntactic comprehension proficiency, i.e. their skills in extracting literal sentence meaning from syntactic cues, especially word order in Danish. The final intervention study is intended to directly test the effects of syntax intervention on sentence and reading comprehension.

The intervention is based on the metalinguistic approach Shape Coding where syntactic information is made available for inspection through extensive visual coding of language structures with colors, arrows and geometrical shapes (Ebbels, 2007).

Shape coding was developed for children with developmental language disorder (DLD). Studies have shown that the system can improve the syntactic proficiency of these children (see Balthazar, Ebbels & Zwitserloodd, 2020). However, previous studies have focused on specific language outcomes, e.g. coordinating conjunctions (neither nor, not only but also) (Ebbels et al., 2014), they have been small-scale, and they have only involved participants with severe language disorder (e.g. Ebbels, van der Lely & Dockrell, 2007).

The intervention is intended for Grade 5 students with performance below the 25th percentile on tests of syntax and text comprehension are invited to participate. We expect that some participants will have a DLD whereas others will not meet ordinary criteria for having language or reading difficulties.

Rather than targeting specific syntactic outcomes, we will use the Shape Coding system to address general syntactic characteristics: 1) that phrases filling semantic roles can be both simple and complex, and 2) that word order varies according to construction type or speaker focus. In the presentation we will show examples of included sentences to illustrate why the awareness of these general syntactic characteristics could be important for children’s sentence and text comprehension.

The intervention study will have implications for our understanding of individual differences in syntactic proficiency as a bottleneck in children’s reading comprehension. It also has practical implications by providing insights into the potential of using an explicit metalinguistic approach for teaching syntax to Grade 5 students.



Balthazar, C. H., Ebbels, S., & Zwitserlood, R. (2020). Explicit Grammatical Intervention for Developmental Language Disorder: Three Approaches. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 51(2), 226-246. https://doi.org/10.1044/2019_lshss-19-00046

Ebbels, S. (2007). Teaching grammar to school-aged children with specific language impairment using Shape Coding. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 23(1), 67-93. https://doi.org/10.1191/0265659007072143

Ebbels, S. H., van der Lely, H. K., & Dockrell, J. E. (2007). Intervention for verb argument structure in children with persistent SLI: a randomized control trial. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, 50(5), 1330-1349. https://doi.org/10.1044/1092-4388(2007/093)

Ebbels, S. H., Marić, N., Murphy, A., & Turner, G. (2014). Improving comprehension in adolescents with severe receptive language impairments: a randomized control trial of intervention for coordinating conjunctions. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 49(1), 30-48. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1111/1460-6984.12047

Infant-Directed Speech Does Not Always Involve Exaggerated Vowel Distinctions: Evidence From Danish

Christopher Cox, School of Communication and Culture / Interacting Minds Centre, Aarhus University / Department of Language and Linguistic Science, University of York
Christina Dideriksen, School of Communication and Culture / Interacting Minds Centre, Aarhus University
Tamar Keren-Portnoy, Department of Language and Linguistic Science, University of York
Andreas Roepstorff, School of Communication and Culture / Interacting Minds Centre, Aarhus University
Morten H. Christiansen, School of Communication and Culture / Interacting Minds Centre, Aarhus University / Department of Psychology, Cornell University
Riccardo Fusaroli, School of Communication and Culture / Interacting Minds Centre, Aarhus University


A prominent hypothesis holds that parents may help infants learn language by modifying the acoustic properties of their infant-directed speech (IDS) (Kalashnikova & Burnham, 2018; Kuhl et al., 1997; Liu et al., 2003). The benefits of IDS to phonological development are generally attributed to its tendency to increase the clarity of the speech addressed to children (cf., Kuhl et al., 1997; Liu et al., 2003). For example, IDS has been shown to exhibit a higher degree of separability in its phonetic categories through vowel space expansion, which in turn, has been shown to correlate with language outcomes at a later point in development (Dilley et al., 2020; Hartman et al., 2017; Kalashnikova & Burnham, 2018; Liu et al., 2003).

The current study revolves around Danish, a language characterised by a high degree of phonetic reduction and a wide variety of vocalic sounds (cf., Basbøll, 2005; Trecca et al., 2021). The peculiar sound structure of Danish has led researchers to posit that Danish may be particularly difficult for infants to learn; that is, the sizeable vowel inventory and frequent reduction of obstruents to vocalic sounds in Danish may reduce the availability of processing cues (Bleses et al., 2008a, 2008b, 2011). If the acoustic properties of caregivers’ IDS serve to clarify the linguistic input to Danish-learning infants, we may expect these properties to manifest themselves in a particularly strong manner in Danish (cf., Trecca et al., 2021).

We compare the acoustic properties of 26 Danish caregivers’ spontaneous speech when interacting with their 11-24-month-old infants and an adult experimenter (i.e., adult-directed speech, ADS) on both prosodic and vocalic dimensions. The results indicate that Danish IDS conforms to general cross-linguistic patterns in its prosodic properties, with a higher overall pitch, a greater degree of pitch variability and a slower articulation rate (cf. Figure 1).

The acoustic properties of Danish vowels, however, contradict cross-linguistic tendencies: Danish caregivers produce IDS with similar vowel durations, a reduced or similar vowel space area and a higher degree of within-vowel variability (cf. Figure 2 below).

We argue that these results provide little support for the hypothesis that caregivers help infants learn language by increasing the clarity of their speech. We use these results to reflect on the scientific study of IDS and highlight the need for theory-driven comparisons across a diverse intersection of languages and cultures (Christiansen et al., 2022; Deffner et al., 2021; Kidd & Garcia, 2022).



Basbøll, H. (2005). The phonology of Danish. Oxford University Press.

Bleses, D., Basbøll, H., & Vach, W. (2011). Is Danish difficult to acquire? Evidence from Nordic past-tense studies. Language and Cognitive Processes, 26(8), 1193–1231.

Bleses, D., Vach, W., Slott, M., Wehberg, S., Thomsen, P., Madsen, T. O., & Basbøll, H. (2008a). Early vocabulary development in Danish and other languages: A CDI-based comparison. Journal of Child Language, 35(3), 619–650.

Bleses, D., Vach, W., Slott, M., Wehberg, S., Thomsen, P., Madsen, T. O., & Basbøll, H. (2008b). The Danish Communicative Developmental Inventories: Validity and main developmental trends. Journal of Child Language, 35(3), 651–669.

Christiansen, M. H., Kallens, P. C., & Trecca, F. (2022). Towards A Comparative Approach to Language Acquisition. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1177/09637214211049229

Deffner, D., Rohrer, J. M., & McElreath, R. (2021). A Causal Framework for Cross-Cultural Generalizability. PsyArxiv.

Dilley, L., Lehet, M., Wieland, E. A., Arjmandi, M. K., Kondaurova, M., Wang, Y., Reed, J., Svirsky, M., Houston, D., & Bergeson, T. (2020). Individual Differences in Mothers’ Spontaneous Infant-Directed Speech Predict Language Attainment in Children With Cochlear Implants. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 63(7), 2453–2467.

Hartman, K. M., Ratner, N. B., & Newman, R. S. (2017). Infant-directed speech (IDS) vowel clarity and child language outcomes. Journal of Child Language, 44(5), 1140–1162.

Kalashnikova, M., & Burnham, D. (2018). Infant-directed speech from seven to nineteen months has similar acoustic properties but different functions. Journal of Child Language, 45(5), 1035–1053.

Kidd, E., & Garcia, R. (2022). How diverse is child language acquisition? First Language, 1–33. https://doi.org/10.1177/01427237211066405

Kuhl, P. K., Andruski, J. E., Chistovich, I. A., Chistovich, L. A., Kozhevnikova, E. V., Ryskina, V. L., Stolyarova, E. I., Sundberg, U., & Lacerda, F. (1997). Cross-language analysis of phonetic units in language addressed to infants. Science, 277(5326), 684–686.

Liu, H., Kuhl, P. K., & Tsao, F. (2003). An association between mothers’ speech clarity and infants’ speech discrimination skills. Developmental Science, 6(3), F1–F10.

Trecca, F., Tylén, K., Højen, A., & Christiansen, M. H. (2021). Danish as a Window Onto Language Processing and Learning. Language Learning, 71, 799–833.

Let’s think of that elephant: the dead-end of the “cognitive unconscious” in language and (political) communication

Filomena Diodato, Sapienza University of Rome


George Lakoff’s world-renowned works on political communication advocate a neural account of the political mind (Lakoff 2004, 2008). Taken for granted the neural evidence of frames, and the ubiquity of unconscious cognitive processes, this approach ends up being a dead-end, reducing communication to a trivial brain-bound mechanism. Accordingly, individuals once again become Cartesian automata brainwashed by a media system whose main function is framing, and eventually reframing, their brains/minds.

Yet, the political arena is a potent example of the social essence of semiotic activities, which cannot emerge but from “users” in flesh and blood, given their disposition to constantly (re)negotiate sign meanings (De Mauro 1982). Hence, a neural theory of semiotic/semantic processes results both obsolete, evoking an old propaganda’s theory of behaviorist taste, and inconsistent with the current neuroscientific outcomes.

Halfway between psychoanalysis and neuroscience, investigations show that complex cognitive processing may occur at the unconscious level. However, neuroscience itself is only now beginning to understand how this occurs on the neural level, suggesting that (1) a clarification of the controversial notion of “cognitive unconscious” would require an account of the neural mechanisms underlying both conscious and unconscious thought, and their dynamic interaction (Berlin 2011); (2) certain types of information processing, especially those involving symbol manipulation, seem to take place exclusively in conscious thought; specifically, being a normative system which embroils the individual as well as the collective mind, language requires some sort of access to consciousness (Zlatev, 2011); (3) there are different kinds of unconsciousness, and different degrees of consciousness.

Along these lines, my contribution aims at scrutinizing the interplay of unconscious and conscious processes underlying semiotic activities, believing that a clear-headed account of communication should “get out of the brain” to embrace a semiotic-phenomenological perspective (Sonesson 2015; Zlatev & Blomberg 2019). Re-elaborating Saussure’s conception of linguistic sentiment, which already related linguistic activity to both unconscious and conscious procedures (Siouffi 2021), I will discuss the challenging hypothesis of a collective cognitive unconscious in order to give reasons of the intuitive clarity of that semantic core without which no meaningful utterance is possible (Smirnov 2017). Here “unconscious” brings into play a normative system which provides for the meaningfulness of the human Lifeworld. Such a hypothesis, given a preliminary distinction between introspection and intuition, appears consistent with Merleau-Ponty’s sedimented practical schema of subjective being in the world (Kozyreva 2016), opening a fruitful pathway to achieve a matter-of-fact clarification of semiotic practices.



Berlin H.B., “The Neural Basis of the Dynamic Unconscious”, Neuropsychoanalysis, 2011/13(1), 5–71.

De Mauro, T. (1982), Minisemantica dei linguaggi non verbali e delle lingue, Roma–Bari: Laterza.

Kozyreva A. (2016) “Non-representational approaches to the unconscious in the phenomenology of Husserl and Merleau-Ponty”, Phenom Cogn Sci, 199–224.

Lakoff G. (2004) Don’t think of an elephant! Know your values and frame the debate, White River Junction: Chelsea Green Publishing.

Lakoff G. (2008) The Political Mind. A Cognitive Scientist’s Guide to Your Brain and Its Politics, New York: Penguin Books.

Merleau-Ponty M. (1945/2012), Phenomenology of Perception, London: Routledge.

Siouffi G. (2021) (éd.), Le sentiment linguistique chez Saussure, ENS Éditions.

Smirnov A.V., (2017) “The Collective Cognitive Unconscious and Its Role in Logic, Language, and Culture”, Herald of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vol. 87, No. 5, 409–415.

Sonesson, G. (2015) “Phenomenology meets Semiotics: Two Not So Very Strange Bedfellows at the End of their Cinderella Sleep”, Metodo. International Studies in Phenomenology and Philosophy, Vol. 3, n. 1, 41–62.

Zlatev J. & Blomberg J. (2019) “Norms of language. What kinds and where from? Insights from phenomenology”, in A. Mäkilähde, V. Leppänen & E. Itkonen, Normativity in Language and Linguistics, John Benjamins, 69–101.

Zlatev, J. (2011) “From Cognitive to Integral Linguistics and Back Again”, Intellectica. Revue de l’Association pour la Recherche Cognitive, n. 56/2, Linguistique cognitive: une exploration critique, pp. 125–147.

When are facial gestures in a signed language linguistic?

Elisabeth Engberg-Pedersen, Department of Nordic Studies and Linguistics, University of Copenhagen


Signers of Danish Sign Language (DTS) use two clearly identifiable, nonmanual signals involving muscles around the mouth. For g-a (guarded assessment) signers typically raise their chins, the corners of the mouth appear to be lowered, and the lips may protrude. In n-c (nose consent) the muscles of the cheek and on the side of the nose contract and raise the upper lip, the brows may be lowered. The two signals have different distributions, but also overlap distributionally. Both can be used in responses with and without a manual sign.

Grammatical nonmanual signals in signed languages are described as co-extensive with the manual signals in their semantic scope (Baker-Shenk & Cokely 1980). However, n-c is brief and cannot be extended, whereas g-a can be extended in time, and although it has a clear start, it may linger after the signer has finished the signs in its scope. N-c appears to be a nonmanual equivalent of the manual sign YES used for consent and to be an areal feature of Northern European signed languages. G-a signals skepticism, but can be used with the gesture palm-up (Müller 2004) as a tag to encourage agreement from one’s conversation partner (cf. tags like English isn’t it).

The muscles involved in making g-a and n-c are used in non-linguistic facial expressions signaling disgust and anger (Ekman & Friesen 2003), i.e., negative feelings. Comparing human and chimpanzee facial expressions, Vick et al. describe Chin Raiser as the pushing of “the chin and lower lip upwards, often causing it to protrude… As the center of the lips is pushed upwards, the mouth corners appear to be pulled downwards” (2007: 12). In chimpanzees, this particular signal typically occurs in pouts in “contexts of embraces, invitations, play, approaches, and in response to aggression… Therefore, pouts may represent a need for contact, or reassurance, and physical affinity” (Parr et al. 2007: 177).

In my presentation, I will discuss the signals’ possible origins, linguistic status, and routes into DTS (Wilcox 2004) and their status in relation to Crasborn et al.’s (2008) classification of mouth actions in signed languages.



Crasborn, Onno, Els van der Kooij, Dafydd Waters, Bencie Woll & Johanna Mesch. 2008. Frequency distribution and spreading behavior of different types of mouth actions in three sign languages. Sign Language and Linguistics 11(1), 45–67.

Ekman, Paul, & Friesen, Wallace V. 2003. Unmasking the face: A guide to recognizing emotions from facial expressions. Cambridge, MA: Malor Books.

Vick, Sarah-Jane, Waller, Bridget M., Parr, Lisa A., Pasqualini, Marcia C. S., & Bard, Kim A. 2007. A cross-species comparison of facial morphology and movement in humans and chimpanzees using the Facial Action Coding System (FACS). Journal of Nonverbal Behavior 31, 1–20.

Wilcox, Sherman. 2004. Gesture and language: Cross-linguistic and historical data from signed languages. Gesture 4(1), 43–73.

Do we notice our own mistakes? Attention to misspellings and convention-breaking grammar during reading

Katrine Falcon Søby, Department of Nordic Studies and Linguistics, University of Copenhagen
Byurakn Ishkhanyan, Department of Nordic Studies and Linguistics, University of Copenhagen
Line Burholt Kristensen, Department of Nordic Studies and Linguistics, University of Copenhagen


“Is some grammar errors or mispellings more disturbing than others and why?” Typos, misspellings and anomalous grammar are common phenomena – both in texts written by native and non-native speakers. The language of native speakers is often idealized within second language learning theories (Bokamba 1984), but native speakers also break grammar and spelling conventions (Blom et al. 2017). While some anomalies occur both in texts written by native speakers and by L2 learners, other anomalies are only characteristic for one of the two groups (Hansen et al. 2019; Søby & Kristensen 2019). Our corpus of L1 high school essays shows that the frequency of anomalies follows the pattern orthographic > morphological > syntactic. In L2 users with English as L1, the order is morphological > orthographic > syntactic. Within these three major categories there are also different patterns for L1 and L2 texts.

In a proofreading study, we investigated if native speakers are better at noticing anomalies that are common in L2 production than those that are common in L1 production (and which they potentially produce themselves).

211 Danish high school students (98 women; 17-20 years, M = 18.31 years, SD = 0.67 years) 1) read two texts for comprehension, while underlining misspellings and grammar anomalies and 2) did a basic grammar quiz. The texts contained syntactic (V2 word order), morphological (gender congruency in noun phrases; verbal inflection) and mixed orthographic anomalies. Some anomalies were typical of L1 usage (e.g. use of infinitive for present tense when the two forms are homophone), while others were typical of L2 usage (e.g. use of present tense verb form for the infinitive).

The anomaly detection rate was analyzed using a mixed effects model. In line with L1 production patterns, we found the following detection pattern syntactic > morphological > orthographic, i.e. readers tend to overlook common L1 anomalies. Detailed analysis of gender congruency and verbal inflection pattern also show a match between perception and production patterns, e.g. lower detection rates when an infinitive is used for a homophone present tense (a common L1 mistake). We discuss the degree to which our results show a link between production and perception of grammar.



Blom, J. N., M. Rathje, B. F. Jakobsen, A. Holsting, K. R. Hansen, J. T. Svendsen, T. W. Vildhøj, A. V. Lindø (2017). Linguistic deviations in the written academic register of Danish university students. Oslo Studies in Language 9(3). 169–190.

Bokamba, E. (1984). The fiction of the native speaker in L2 research. GURT on languages and linguistics, 243–252.

Hansen, J. J., L. B. Kristensen, K. F. Søby (2019). Verbal inflections in L1 and L2: what is the role of homophony? Poster presentation at Fonologi i Norden, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, the 22nd of February 2019.

Søby, K. F., & Kristensen, L. B. (2019). Hjælp! Jeg har mistede min yndlings rød taske. Et studie af grammatikafvigelser. Ny forskning i grammatik, (26), 89-104.

Prosody in Swedish and Danish as second languages

Sabine Gosselke Berthelsen, University of Copenhagen


Prosody is important for speech processing, maybe particularly so in the Scandinavian languages where word tones and voice quality play an important role in differentiating words and cueing suffixes. In Danish, for instance, a creaky voice on a word stem (˷) can differentiate a thought from a petrol station (tanke-n, /tsaŋk.ən/, ‘the thought’ vs tank-en, /tsaŋ̰k.ən/, ‘the petrol station’) but it can also cue grammar and prepare the listener, for example, for a plural or singular suffix (pil-e, /pʰiːl.ə/, ‘arrows’ vs pil-en, / pʰḭːl.n/, ‘the arrow’ ). In Swedish and Norwegian, the same contrasts are expressed with tones. This systematic interaction between prosody and inflections allows for facilitated speech processing in the Scandinavian languages (Clausen & Kristensen, 2015; Roll et al., 2017). We propose, however, that the facilitative function of prosody is only available to native speakers and second language learners at high proficiency levels and we, therefore, investigate whether training could benefit L2 learners at earlier stages.

In neurophysiological and behavioural studies, we compared second language learners’ awareness of and responses to L2 prosody to those of native speakers of Danish and Swedish. Specifically, we presented inflected words where the prosody either correctly or incorrectly predicted upcoming suffixes and asked participants to make grammatical decisions based on the suffix. We also presented minimal pairs, only distinguished by prosody, and asked participants to indicate the correct word. Our results indicate that native speakers easily distinguish minimal pairs and were disrupted in their suffix processing when the prosody was mismatching. Second language learners were not affected by mismatched prosody and could not distinguish minimal pairs based on an unfamiliar prosodic feature. A specifically devised training paradigm, however, has provided promising results for improved processing of L2 prosody. Thus, beginner learners’ distinction of minimal pairs quickly improved and we observed facilitated processing after training, i.e., anterior negativities indicative of grammar processing. We also observed more native-like processing if L2 prosody was similar to L1 prosody.



Clausen, S. J., & Kristensen, L. B. (2015). The cognitive status of stød. Nordic Journal of Linguistics, 38(2), 163-187. doi:10.1017/S0332586515000141

Roll, M., Söderström, P., Frid, J., Mannfolk, P., & Horne, M. (2017). Forehearing words: Pre-activation of word endings at word onset. Neuroscience Letters, 658, 57-61. doi:10.1016/j.neulet.2017.08.030

What is knowledge in primary education? Metaphorical conceptualizations of knowledge in Finnish, Finland-Swedish and Swedish curricula

Annika Hillbom, Uppsala University
Marja Nenonen, University of Eastern Finland
Esa Penttilä, University of Eastern Finland


Recently, there has been vivid media debate in the Nordic countries on the contents, goals and teaching methods of primary education. Concern has been expressed, for example, about the sinking results of international tests like PISA, increasing problems regarding “school discipline”, and conflicting views among scholars and politicians about what pupils need to learn. In Sweden, Finland is regarded as a role model because of its PISA results, whereas in Finland various educational innovations have traditionally been modelled after Sweden.

Sweden and Finland are neighboring countries with a partly shared history, similar cultures, and languages that are totally unrelated. Moreover, Finland has a large Swedish-speaking minority, whose variety, Finland-Swedish, is somewhat distinct from the variety spoken in Sweden. This cultural and linguistic context offers an interesting framework to study metaphorical differences between languages and how they conceptualize the world.

The aim of this study is to analyze the meanings and metaphorical conceptualizations of the educational concept knowledge in Swedish, Finnish, and Finland-Swedish. The material consists of the primary school curricula that are used in Sweden and Finland, including the Finland-Swedish translation of the Finnish curriculum. The analysis is based on the conceptual metaphor theory deriving from Lakoff and Johnson (1980), and the concrete perspective derives from studies that concentrate on education-related metaphors and how they conceptualize education with respect to, for example, different socio-cultural values (Goatly 2002; Berendt 2008; Wade 2017). To identify possible metaphors, we use MIPVU (Steen et al. 2010).

The results show that knowledge is conceptualized through various image schemas and other conceptual metaphors in Finnish, Finland-Swedish and Swedish, such as CONTAINER (to have knowledge), SOURCE-PATH-GOAL (to get knowledge, source of knowledge), CULTIVATION (to gain knowledge), and BUILDING (knowledge as foundation, to build knowledge). However, the frequencies of these conceptual metaphors differ between the languages. For example, the BUILDING metaphor is more common in the Finnish curriculum than in the Swedish one. Also, different perspectives on knowledge have been noted. While knowledge in the Finnish curriculum is described as subordinate to bildung, knowledge in the Swedish curriculum is described as a superordinate concept that includes knowledge of facts, understanding etc.

During our talk we will go into more detail regarding the linguistics and metaphorical conceptualizations of knowledge in Finnish, Finland-Swedish, and Swedish, while discussing possible connections between our findings and the ongoing media comparisons between the Finnish and Swedish school systems mentioned above.



Berendt, Erich A. (2008) Intersections and diverging paths: Conceptual patterns on learning in English and Japanese. In Erich A. Berendt (ed.), Metaphors for Learning: Cross-Cultural Perspectives. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 73‒102.

Goatly, Andrew (2002) Conflicting Metaphors in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Educational Reform Proposals, Metaphor and Symbol, 17:4, 263‒294.

Steen, Gerard, Aletta G. Dorst, J. Berenike Herrmann, Anna Kaal, Tina Krennmayr, and Trijntje Pasma (2010) Method for Linguistic Metaphor Identification: From MIP to MIPVU. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Wade, John C. (2017) Metaphor and the shaping of educational thinking. In Francesca Ervas, Elisabetta Gola and Maria Grazia Rossi (eds), Metaphor in Communication, Science and Education. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter Mouton. 305‒319.

When Heavy Rain is Frying Bacon: Metaphor and Foley Art

Marlene Johansson Falck, Department of Language Studies, Umeå University
Elena Glotova, Department of Language Studies, Umeå University


Lakoff and Johnson early on claimed  that ‘metaphor is primarily a matter of thought and action, and only derivatively a matter of language’ (153). Since then, studies have shown that metaphors are reflected in many different modalities and representations (i.e., pictures and multimodal representations (Forceville), art objects (Kennedy), gestures (Cienki and Muller), dance and other expressive acts (Okonski et al.), and music (Zbikowski)).

This paper deals with an analysis of the metaphors reflected in Foley aesthetics and performance. Our aim is to present observations on the use of metaphor in Foley art. Although among a set of signifying systems sound has received “[s]urprisingly little” attention (Turner 66), the recent turn to alternative to the visual orientation in Western culture (Pinch and Bijsterveld 11) elicits the questions of film sound design in the process of human perception and knowledge production. Specifically, film sound can trigger a network of bodily and cognitive associations expressed and interpreted in terms of metaphor (Fahlenbrach; Görne). Foley sounds that require a unique performative technique using various objects and devices for film sound design go beyond the cinema in their aesthetic and creative possibilities and production methods.

The present study undertakes the challenge to apply Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT) to Foley aesthetics and performance (Lakoff and Johnson). It is based on an examination of contemporary handbooks on motion picture sounds and open access publications, manuals and databases on Foley art technique. We start by reviewing Foley sounds production as a stylistic activity that alters the texture of ordinary sounds (e.g., Keenan and Pauletto; Wright) for emotional effect. The specialized design of perceived Foley sound reveals its metaphorical qualities to the audience through cross-modal correspondences of perception (Görne). Next, we proceed to the underworld of Foley art, and namely to examining the technique and production of Foley sounds that are hidden from the audience. By investigating the roots of Foley art in the affordances of objects (Gibson), embodied knowledge, based on practice (Pauletto 343) and an inherent set of correspondences between the sounding objects, we propose that Foley sounds offer a manifestation at the level of “lexico-encyclopedic conceptual [LEC] metaphors” (Johansson Falck). We conclude by discussing the potential of Foley art to be recognized and analyzed as metaphorical, i.e., as the phenomenon whereby we sound something in terms of something else, as well as the underlying assumptions and challenges to what it takes to be a metaphor.



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