Each task investigates a specific aspect of linguistic meaning that scientists believe are key to understanding human language. Read more about the specific aspects of meaning being studied below. Much more information about the VerbCorner project and about language research in general can be found on the GamesWithWords blog.

Unlocked Tasks:

  1. Explode on Contact
  2. This task asks whether the sentence describes one object touching another. Whether a verb describes one object touching another seems to impact how the verb is used and how grammar rules apply to the verb.

  3. Philosophical Zombie Hunter
  4. One important thing language can do is describe the contents of other people's minds. In fact, one of our best sources of information about what other people are thinking is what they tell us about what they are thinking. In fact, research by Jill de Villiers and others has suggested that certain aspects of the grammatical structure of language may be what allow us to think about other people's thoughts at all. This task investigates which verbs describe the mental states of others.

  5. Equilibrium
  6. This task investigates application of force: Does the sentence describe one object pushing against or otherwise applying force to another. Very influential work by Leonard Talmy and others has suggested that human conceptualization of force dynamics affects much of the structure of langauge.

  7. Fickle Folk
  8. Whether a verb describes a 'change of state' is a core component of verb meaning, influencing many rules of grammar. For instance, some researchers have suggested that a verb cannot have a direct object unless it describes a change of state. This task looks at a specific kind of change-of-state: mental changes (changes of belief, knowledge, emotion, etc.). Other tasks look at other kinds of changes. We found that participants had difficulty with a single task that covered all the different kinds of changes linguists talk about, which may be evidence that the linguistic theory needs to be more nuanced.

  9. Simon Says Freeze
  10. Whether a verb describes a 'change of state' is a core component of verb meaning, influencing many rules of grammar. For instance, some researchers have suggested that a verb cannot have a direct object unless it describes a change of state. This task looks at a specific kind of change-of-state: changes of location. Other tasks look at other kinds of changes. We found that participants had difficulty with a single task that covered all the different kinds of changes linguists talk about, which may be evidence that the linguistic theory needs to be more nuanced.

  11. A Good World
  12. This task is designed to get your intuition as to the 'valence' of a state or event. Scientists refer to the perceived goodness or badness of something as 'valence.' This important psychological concept is thought to be one of the two major dimensions of emotion and is crucial for many aspects of behavior. Though valence has been less discussed within Linguistics, given its centrality in psychology, we are looking at it.

  13. Entropy
  14. Whether a verb describes a 'change of state' is a core component of verb meaning, influencing many rules of grammar. For instance, some researchers have suggested that a verb cannot have a direct object unless it describes a change of state. This task looks at a specific kind of change-of-state: changes of physical state. Other tasks look at other kinds of changes. We found that participants had difficulty with a single task that covered all the different kinds of changes linguists talk about, which may be evidence that the linguistic theory needs to be more nuanced.


     image credits last updated 06/23/2016