Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Barbara A. Fox

Second Advisor

Martha S. Palmer

Third Advisor

David Rood


The concept of three basic frames of reference to describe spatial relations has taken firm root in linguistics and cognitive science over the past twenty years. Levinson contends that speakers of a particular language tend to use the frames of reference predominant in that language to solve nonlinguistic spatial tasks - in short, in the domain of spatial reference and reasoning, language can be shown to influence cognition. I examine data taken from the spatial language that players use to navigate the virtual world of the popular MMO World of Warcraft, and attempt to demonstrate that many factors other than native language are responsible for the spatial systems used to address different situations. These factors, including the availability of time to formulate precise directions and the availability or lack of certain paralinguistic tools, may outweigh the influence of native language in determining which system of reference to use.