Addressee- and Object-centered Frames of Reference in Spatial Descriptions

Michael F. Schober

An important question for some spatial language systems is how to select the frames of reference that underlie the production and interpretation of spatial expressions. The psychological experiments described here examine whether the usual classification scheme for reference frames should be modified to include a reference frame for the addressee of a spatial expression, or whether considering the addressee to be like another object in the environment is appropriate. The experiments compare how quickly people can describe the same location from the perspective of another parson and from the perspective of an object (a chair). Results suggest that taking object’s perspective can be easier than taking another parson’s. This has implications for (and raises questions about) how systemshould represent conversational partners and how often they should instsntiate reference frames during processing of spatial expressions.

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