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1 - 1 of 1 results for: LINGUIST 67S. The Role of Language in Perception and Cognition

LINGUIST 67S: The Role of Language in Perception and Cognition

One of the driving questions in linguistics involves the relationship between language and cognition: what do the properties of language tell us about the nature of our thinking and reasoning? Whorf's theory of linguistic relativism, made famous in popular science, suggests that the structures and patterns of the language(s) we speak constrain the way we think. This hypothesis, and the data that motivated it, have been the subject of much debate in the linguistic literature over the past few decades.This course introduces methods and ideas in modern linguistics through the lens of this debate. We first discuss Whorf's original hypothesis, and then examine arguments and data for strong and weak interpretations of linguistic relativism. We look at data from languages that differ structurally and conceptually from English, including languages that divide the colour spectrum differently, languages that lack numerals beyond the low single digits, and languages that use geographical coordinate systems (north, south, etc) instead of speaker-oriented ones (left, right). We consider how to use these differences to investigate a potential connection between language and cognitive capacities, focusing on understanding and critiquing recent research and experimental work in these areas.
Last offered: Summer 2018
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