Space in Language and Cognition: Explorations in Cognitive Diversity

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Cambridge University Press, Mar 20, 2003 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 389 pages
Languages differ in how they describe space, and such differences between languages can be used to explore the relation between language and thought. This 2003 book shows that even in a core cognitive domain like spatial thinking, language influences how people think, memorize and reason about spatial relations and directions. After outlining a typology of spatial coordinate systems in language and cognition, it is shown that not all languages use all types, and that non-linguistic cognition mirrors the systems available in the local language. The book reports on collaborative, interdisciplinary research, involving anthropologists, linguists and psychologists, conducted in many languages and cultures around the world, which establishes this robust correlation. The overall results suggest that thinking in the cognitive sciences underestimates the transformative power of language on thinking. The book will be of interest to linguists, psychologists, anthropologists and philosophers, and especially to students of spatial cognition.
 

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Contents

The intellectual background two millennia of Western ideas about spatial thinking
1
11 The great eye opener differences in spatial reckoning
4
12 Ideas about spatial cognition in the Western tradition
6
13 Synopsis
18
14 Conclusions
22
Frames of reference
24
22 Frames of reference across modalities and the disciplines that study them
25
23 Linguistic frames of reference in crosslinguistic perspective
34
different subsamples from the same region
188
gender literacy and cultural conservatism
193
56 Another possible confound? The Big Outdoors and the relevance of landmarks
197
the case of the Tzeltal defective axes
206
chicken or egg?
210
59 Conclusions
213
Beyond language frames of reference in wayfinding and pointing
216
62 Gesture during speaking dead reckoning on the fly
244

24 Molyneuxs question
56
Linguistic diversity
62
32 Conceptual domains underlying the language of space
64
33 Solutions to place specification not involving frames of reference or coordinate systems
69
34 Solutions to location description utilizing frames of reference or coordinate systems
74
35 Motion
95
patterns of linguistic coding
98
37 Conclusions
110
Absolute minds glimpses into two cultures
112
41 Guugu Yimithirr speakers of Hopevale
113
42 Tzeltal Speakers of Tenejapa
146
43 Conclusions
168
Diversity in mind methods and results from a crosslinguistic sample
170
52 Methods
173
53 Overall test of the coding difference hypothesis
178
63 Different kinds of mental maps
271
64 Summary and conclusions
278
Language and thought
280
72 The relation between linguistic and conceptual categories
291
73 NeoWhorfianism
301
74 The acquisition of linguistic frames of reference by children
307
75 Universals vs cultural specializations
315
or how we lost our mental compass
316
Notes
326
List of references
348
Language index
368
Author index
370
Subject index
375
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About the author (2003)

Stephen C. Levinson is Director of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and Professor of Comparative Linguistics at the University of Nijmegen. His publications include Pragmatics (Cambridge, 1983), Politeness (co-author Cambridge, 1987), Rethinking Linguistic Relativity (co-editor, Cambridge, 1996), Language Acquisition and Conceptual Development (co-editor, Cambridge, 2001) and Presumptive Meaning (2001).

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