New Perspectives on Language and Thought

Lila Gleitman and Anna Papafragou

in The Oxford Handbook of Thinking and Reasoning

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199734689
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 New Perspectives on Language and Thought

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  • Cognitive Psychology
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In this chapter we discuss the question of whether, how, where, and to what extent language plays a causally fundamental role in creating categories of thought, and in organizing and channeling thought that is already mentally present. In general, both logic and currently available evidence suggest a disclamatory view of strongest proposals (Benjamin Whorf 1956) according to which particulars of certain human languages are important progenitors of thought, such that elements of perception or conception would be permanently altered by learning one or another language. However, several credible lines of experimental and developmental evidence suggest significant influence of linguistic representation during online processing in many cognitive and perceptual domains: Insofar as languages differ in the short-term processing demands that they pose to listeners, interpretational outcomes and styles, including characteristic ambiguity resolution, may look quite different cross-linguistically as a function of concomitant population differences (e.g., age-group) and task demands.

Keywords: categorical perception; whorf; linguistic relativity; linguistic determinism

Article.  20466 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience

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