About the Module
Does the language you speak affect how you think, or how you feel, or your sense of who you are? This module explores the deep interconnections between language, cognition and culture. It begins by introducing the nature of language, dialects, and registers, and assesses what sort of information is encoded in language itself-- and what is lost when a language disappears. We then turn to issues surrounding bilingualism and biculturalism, and ask to what extent we conflate the logics of our multiple languages, or whether we keep them distinct. We explore whether we think or feel differently when speaking different languages, and in what ways that might be manifested. For data, we analyze our own everyday language practices-- including code-switching, metaphor and gesture-- to help us determine in more concrete terms how and in what ways language is connected to thought on the one hand and culture on the other.
WEEK BY WEEK
Nature of Language, Dialect, Bilingualism
Bilingualism & Biculturalism
Spatiality & Temporality
Intro to Codeswitching
Intro to Data Collection
Coproduction of Gesture and Speech
|13||Language, Brain, and Body
What we lose when languages die
Readings (Subject to Change!)
Ag, A.,and J. N. Jørgensen. (2012). Ideologies, norms, and practices in youth poly-languaging. International Journal of Bilingualism 17(4) 525–539.
Boroditsky, Lera. (2001). Does Language Shape Thought?: Mandarin and English Speakers’ Conceptions of Time Cognitive Psychology 43, pg. 1–22
Brown, Penelope and Stephen C. Levinson. (2009). Language as Mind Tools: Learning How to Think Through Speaking. In Crosslinguistic Approaches to the Psychology of Language. New York: Psychology Press. pp. 451-463.
Bylund, Emanuel, & Panos Athanasopoulos. (2017). The Whorfian Time Warp: Representing Duration Through the Language Hourglass. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. 146(7):911-916.
Cameron, Deborah. (2003). Linguistic Relativity: Benjamin Lee Whorf and the Return of the Repressed. Critical Quarterly 41(2): 153-156
Dehaene, Stanislas, Véronique Izard, Elizabeth Spelke, and Pierre Pica. (2008). Log or linear? Distinct intuitions of the number scale in Western and Amazonian indigene cultures. Science 320, no. 5880: 1217-1220.
Deutscher, Guy. (2010). Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages. New York: Metropolitan Books (Ch. 6: Crying Whorf)
Frank, M. C., Everett, D. L., Fedorenko, E., & Gibson, E. (2008). Number as a cognitive technology: Evidence from Pirahã language and cognition. Cognition, 108(3), 819-824.
Grosjean, François. (2015) Bicultural bilinguals. International Journal of Bilingualism 19(5) 572–586.
Gullberg, Marianne. (2011). Language-specific encoding of placement events in gestures. In Pederson, E. & Bohnemeyer, J. (Eds.). Event representations in language and cognition. New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 166-188.
Haviland, John. (1993). Anchoring, Iconicity, and Orientation in Guugu Yimithirr Pointing Gestures. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology. 3(1) pg. 3-45
Jarvis, Scott, and Aneta Pavlenko. (2008). Crosslinguistic Influence in Language and Culture. New York: Routledge.
Kendon, Adam. (1995). Gestures as Illocutionary and Discourse Structure Marker in Southern Italian Conversation. Journal of Pragmatics 23, pg. 247-279
Kendon, Adam. (1997). Gesture. Annual Review of Anthropology 26 pg. 109-128
Kendon, Adam. (2004). Gesture: Visible Action as Utterance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Chapter 6: Classifying Gestures)
Kövecses, Zoltán. (2000). Metaphor and Emotion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Koven, Michele. (2006). Feeling in Two Languages: A Comparative Analysis of a Bilingual’s Affective Displays in French and Portuguese. In Pavlenko, Aneta (ed.) Bilingual Minds: Emotional Experience, Expression and Representation. Tonawanda, NY: Multilingual Matters Ltd. pp. 84-117.
Krauss, Michael. (1992). The world’s languages in crisis. Language, 68(1), pp.4-10.
Lakoff, George, and Mark Johnson. (1980). Conceptual Metaphor in Everyday Language. The Journal of Philosophy 77(8), pg. 453-486
McNeill, David. (1995). Hand and mind : what gestures reveal about thought Chicago: University of Chicago Press
Pica, P., Lemer, C., Izard, V., & Dehaene, S. (2004). Exact and approximate arithmetic in an Amazonian indigene group. Science, 306(5695), 499-503.
Pinker, Steven. (1994). The Language Instinct. New York: Penguin. (Ch.3 ‘Mentalese’, plus excerpts from Ch. 2 ‘Chatterboxes’ and Ch. 13 ‘Mind Design’)
Rampton, Ben. (1998). Language crossing and the redefinition of reality. in: Auer, P (ed.): Code-switching in conversation. London: Routledge. 290-320.
Sapir, E. (2004). Language: An introduction to the study of speech. Courier Corporation.
Simons, G. F., & Lewis, M. (2013). The world’s languages in crisis. Responses to language endangerment: In honor of Mickey Noonan. New directions in language documentation and language revitalization. pp. 3-19.
Slobin, Dan. (1996). From 'Thought and Language' to 'Thinking for Speaking.' In J. J. Gumperz & S. C. Levinson (Eds.), Rethinking Linguistic Relativity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
So, Wing Chee. (2010). Cross-cultural transfer in gesture frequency in Chinese–English bilinguals. Language and Cognitive Processes, 25:10, 1335-1353
Talmy, Leonard. (1983). How Language Structures Space. In: Spatial Orientation: Theory, Research, and Application. H. Pick and L. Acredolo, eds. New York: Plenum Press Pp. 225-282.
Whorf, Benjamin Lee. (1967). Language, Thought, and Reality. Cambridge: MIT Press. (excerpts)
Wierzbicka, Anna. (1992). Semantics, Culture, and Cognition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Woolard, Kathryn. A. (1998). Simultaneity and Bivalency as Strategies in Bilingualism. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, 8(1), pg. 3-29.
Yu, Ning. (1995). Metaphorical Expressions of Anger and Happiness in English and Chinese. Metaphor and Symbolic Activity 10(2) pp. 59-92.
|Paper: Linguistic Relativity||30%|
1. Linguistic Relativity Paper
Write short essay how one of the topics below is germane to arguments concerning linguistic relativity, including one page as an addendum in which you explain its possible implications for bilinguals/biculturals. Use (and cite) three secondary scholarly sources from outside of class.
• Conceptual Metaphor
• Color Perception
• Memory, Narrative, and Eye-Witness Accounts
• Linguistic Synaesthesia (i.e. synaesthetic metaphors)
• Linguistic Classifiers and Object Concepts
2. Codeswitching (CS) Project
Examine your own (and/or classmates) codeswitching practices, and make an argument about how codeswitching serves social-cognitive purposes (or both). Specify what those purposes are and show the evidence. Evince earlier work/readings on relativity here, and advance a novel argument. [Note: this easier to do if you focus the argument on findings about the ethnographic data; it is more difficult to do if you aim to contribute to the theory.]
3. Gesture Project
Study video data you collect on yourselves in bilingual performance and make an argument about the connection between your gesture practices and your multilingualism. Specify what that connection is, evince earlier work/readings on relativity/bilingualism, and refer to evidence from your video data (using still frames, short clips, or time codes corresponding to the video file).
- Show up on time.
- Use your brain.
A/P Peter Vail
National University of Singapore
University Scholars Programme
Cinnamon South Learn Lobe #02-03
18 College Avenue East
I trained as a cultural anthropologist (cornell u) and as a sociolinguist (georgetown u), which, added together, I suppose makes me a linguistic anthropologist. I work mostly in mainland southeast asia - thailand, laos, cambodia. I have worked on a variety of projects focusing on language shift, literacy, and culture along the thai-cambodian border and have studied muay thai as a cultural phenomenon in thailand. I am now looking at issues of land tenure and basic rights among dara'ang speakers in northern thailand.