N.B. It’s probably best not to have pictures of babies popping up on your screen whilst in a public place, especially if the people nearby know that you don’t have any children.
There have been some very interesting discussions of the relationship between language and thought recently, including for example, Sean’s absolutely fascinating series of posts about the evolution of colour terms, a great post on descriptions of motion in different languages over at the lousy linguist (here), Guy Deutscher’s article “Does Your Language Shape How You Think?” (for discussions, see e.h. here and here), a slightly less recent piece by Lera Boroditsky in the Wall Street Journal, and an excellent recent discussion of her article by Mark Liberman (here). (see also James’ post, including a great/terrible joke about Whorf).
One of the things that Deutscher wrote in his article was that:
“The area where the most striking evidence for the influence of language on thought has come to light is the language of space — how we describe the orientation of the world around us.”
As I’ve written a bit about this topic on my other blog, Shared Symbolic Storage, I’ll repost a short series of posts over the next couple of days.
As Deutscher said, this is a very fascinating avenue of linguistic research that gives much insight into the nature of language and cognition as well as their relationship. In addition, it also presents us with new facts and considerations we have to take into account when we think about how language and cognition evolved.
Having now returned, I feel a long list of links is needed to kick start things:
- The journal Biolinguistics now has a blog. Whether or not this turns out to be interesting will obviously depend on the role they adopt for the blog. At the moment it just seems to be promoting various conferences and a summer school. I’ve added their RSS to google reader, so we shall see if anything worth while pops up.
- Peter Frost over at Evo and Proud has written a fascinating article about the late Claude Lévi-Strauss and his view that “cultural differences have, over time, produced biological differences”.
- Babel’s Dawn is producing a ridiculous amount of insightful articles. In particular, you should check out: Is anything universal in language? It covers a great paper (click here for a draft copy) by Nicholas Evans and Stephen C. Levinson, which knocks down the perpetuated myth of language universals.
- Be sure to check out The Adventures of Auck, a blog by a friend, and fellow Welshman, at Edinburgh University. He’s written two insightful pieces on colour perception in bilinguals. Part one and part two.
- Hat tip to Shared Symbolic Storage for directing me towards a review of Michael Tomasello‘s book Why we cooperate? My personal view: it’s a by-product of our ability to coordinate perception and behaviour (but that’s for a future post).
- Edge poses the question: How is the internet changing the way you think? Plenty of good responses. Particularly amusing was Andy Clark’s reply: What kind of dumb question is that?
Right, that’s all I’ve got time for at the moment. Laptop battery is dying and my bladder is urging me towards the toilet.