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Thought-based Linguistics
How Languages Turn Thoughts into Sounds


  • Date Published: April 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108421171

£ 85.00

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About the Authors
  • The extent to which language is inseparable from thought has long been a major subject of debate across linguistics, psychology, philosophy and other disciplines. In this study, Wallace Chafe presents a thought-based theory of language that goes beyond traditional views that semantics, syntax, and sounds are sufficient to account for language design. Language begins with thoughts in the mind of a speaker and ends by affecting thoughts in the mind of a listener. This obvious observation is seldom incorporated in descriptions of language design for two major reasons. First, the role of thought is usually usurped by semantics. But semantic structures are imposed on thought by languages and differ from one language to another. Second, thought does not lend itself to familiar methods of linguistic analysis. Chafe suggests ways of describing thoughts, traces the path languages follow from thoughts to sounds, and explores ways in which thoughts are oriented in time, memory, imagination, reality, and emotions.

    • Investigates the properties of thoughts, allowing readers to relate them to their own experiences
    • Explores different ways in which multiple languages organize and communicate thoughts, forging a deeper understanding of language differences
    • Readers will appreciate the central role of thoughts in their own use of language
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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2018
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108421171
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.48kg
    • contains: 72 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Preliminaries:
    1. Background
    2. Ground rules
    Part II. Thoughts and their Properties:
    3. The priority of thoughts
    4. The path from a thought to a sound
    5. How thoughts are structured
    6. How thoughts are experienced
    7. How thoughts are shared
    8. How thoughts flow through time
    Part III. Verbalization Illustrated:
    9. From a thought to a sound in English
    10. From a thought to a sound in a polysynthetic language
    Part IV. Related Issues:
    11. The translation paradox
    12. Repeated verbalizations of the same thought
    13. Rethinking Whorf
    14. Lessons from literature
    Part V. Common Ways of Orienting Thoughts:
    15. Small numbers and subitizing
    16. Thoughts and gender
    17. Time, tense, memory, and imagination
    18. Relating ideas to reality
    Part VI. The Emotional Component of Thoughts:
    19. Emotional involvement in a conversation
    20. The feeling of nonseriousness
    21. How language can be beautiful

  • Author

    Wallace Chafe, University of California, Santa Barbara
    Wallace Chafe is Professor Emeritus and Research Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research has focused in part on the Seneca language in New York and the Caddo language in Oklahoma. He has investigated differences between speaking and writing; the functions of prosody in spoken language; the emotion underlying laughter and humor, ways in which language can be beautiful; and relations between language and thought.

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