Department of Linguistics
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Deutscher Platz 6
phone.: +49 (0) 341 3550 - 300
fax: +49 (0) 341 3550 - 333
Language and Thought: Universality and Relativism
Almost anybody who has taken part in interactions between native English speakers and Indonesian speakers has had occasion to observe striking differences in how people from both groups deal with the notion of time: how they conceive time, how they value time, and how they plan and execute their activities in time. In this project, we plan to study a variety of conceptual categories which are encoded in significantly different fashion in English and in Indonesian.
In this project, we plan to study a variety of conceptual categories which are encoded in significantly different fashion in English and in Indonesian. This study involves the following stages: (a) determining how the category is expressed in the grammars and the lexicons of the respective languages, using usual descriptive methods supplemented by psycholinguistic experiments; (b) exploring the ways in which speakers of the respective languages conceptualize the category, as measured through similarity ratings, groupings, memory performance, attentional behavior, reasoning, and other cognitive tasks; (c) examining the resulting linguistic and cognitive facts for possible correlations; (d) examining whether specific aspects of linguistic experience can affect cognition by tracking cognitive changes that take place as children acquire specific aspects of their first language, or as bilingual adults acquire a second language either naturally or as part of a controlled training study in the laboratory; and (e) expanding the empirical coverage to other languages.
For a full list of all current research assistants, see the webpage at the Jakarta Fieldstation.
Links to web pages with more information about the project
Webpage at Jakarta Fieldstation