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Variability in human body vocabularies

Linguistic analysis provides insight into the vocabularies for body parts in more than a thousand languages

Human bodies have similar designs. However, languages differ in the way they divide the body into parts and name them. A team of linguists from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA) in Leipzig and the University of Passau conducted a comparison of body part vocabularies to shed light on the interplay between language, culture, and perception of the human body. The study represents the first large-scale comparison of body part vocabularies across 1,028 language varieties and provides important insights into the variability of a universal human domain.

© Annika Tjuka/MPI-EVA