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Space in Language and Cognition


  • 47 b/w illus. 25 tables
  • Page extent: 414 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.78 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 401/.9
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: P37.5.S65 L48 2003
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Space and time in language
    • Psycholinguistics
    • Cognition

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521812627 | ISBN-10: 0521812623)

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.

• Was the first large-scale study which uses cross-linguistic differences to throw light on the relation between language and cognition • Demonstrates that linguistic categories, conceptual categories and many aspects of behaviour cohere to form a single 'cognitive style'


Preface; 1. The intellectual background: two millenia of Western ideas about spatial thinking; 2. Frames of reference; 3. Linguistic diversity; 4. Absolute minds: glimpses into two cultures; 5. Diversity in mind: methods and results from a cross-linguistic sample; 6. Beyond language: frames of reference in wayfinding and pointing; 7. Language and thought.

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