Language and Cognition Department, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
 by Tyko Dirksmeyer

Hidden colour-chips task: demonstratives, attention, and interaction

Demonstratives are typically described as encoding degrees of physical distance between the object referred to, and the speaker or addressee. For example, this in English is used to talk about things that are physically near the speaker, and that for things that are not. But is this how speakers really choose between these words in actual talk? This task aims to generate spontaneous language data concerning deixis, gesture, and demonstratives, and to investigate the significance of different factors (e.g., physical distance, attention) in demonstrative selection. In the presence of one consultant (the “memoriser”), sixteen colour chips are hidden under objects in a specified array. Another consultant enters the area and asks the memoriser to recount the locations of the chips. The task is designed to create a situation where the speaker genuinely attempts to manipulate the addressee’s attention on objects in the immediate physical space.


This Field Manual entry can be downloaded from the MPG Publication Repository:

How to cite this resource?

Enfield, N. J., & Bohnemeyer, J. (2001). Hidden colour-chips task: Demonstratives, attention, and interaction. In S. C. Levinson, & N. J. Enfield (Eds.), Manual for the field season 2001 (pp. 21-28). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. doi:10.17617/2.874636.

Volume 2001 , filed under Space project.