Dissociating language and circumstance: Eskimos to Bermuda. Move Americans to Vail or Aspen ‘sugar’ ‘granule’ ‘powder’ OR……
FALC0NRY THOUGH THAT HER JESSES WERE MY DEAR HEARTSTRINGS, I’D WHISTLE HER OFF AND LET HER DOWN THE WIND, TO PREY AT FORTUNE. OTHELLO, III, I, 260-263
Correlations of language and thought …In short, pace Li and Gleitman, the evidence remains that the frames of reference used in people’s language match those used in their nonlinguistic cognition. (Levinson, 2003). …Remember those Eskimos and their snow words.
N 42nd 10th S
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Two sanemanipulations Two languages vary in their labeling practices. Does the labeling predict sorting or memory? (as in e.g., Papafragou, Massey and Gleitman’s st Study of path/manner, or Li and Gleitman on tight fit/ loose fit).
Names for artifacts (Malt, Sloman, Gennari, 2003) In English, a plastic container for holding drinks, having a straw and the shape of Mickey Mouse, is called a water bottle, but a plastic container for holding drinks, having a straw and in the shape of a bear, is called a juice box. 60 photos of containers found in homes, grocery, and drug stores in China, Argentina, USA, e.g., asperin bottle, baby bottle, peanut butter jar, mustard jar, milk jug, margerine tub, juice box.
Sorts: overall similarity, similarity of physical features, similarity of functional features. • Names. The various sorts intercorrelated approx .94. The names intercorrelated approx .33. The categories of one language were not neat subsets or supersets of each other. A model of factors entering into linguistic categorization showed that different factors counted in different languages; but these were not the factors that entered into sorting.
Fundamental spatial concepts ON Munnich & Landau, 2001
When language effects are achieved: I. Boundary effects • The stimulus is highly ambiguous with regard to the factors varied . (For clear cases, no effect). • Language is explicit in the situation “This is my blicket.” “See that blicket?” (For clear cases, no effect). An internal dialogue: This guy is speaking English. He introduces a new expression. What proportion of N’s in English are count? What proportion of NP’s in English have count-nouns as their heads? Blicket is “probably” a count noun. And hence “probably” encodes an object rathre than a mass. And thus “probably” will label a rigid shape.
See that blicket? Find some more.(((Imai and Gentner) A regular T-like shape. Of some new material. A puddle-like shape. Of some new material. English: “Water” versus “A cube” Japanese: No count/mass morphology.
When language effects are achieved: II. The belief that syntax to semantics mappings are arbitrary and variable. …
Using Linguistic Context He’s sebbing R. Brown, 1957
Using Linguistic Context Look, a seb!
Using Linguistic Context Some seb Brown, 1957
When language effects are achieved: III. When correlations seem like causal relations … Caiuses, effects, confusions
Is deduction from structure “Whorfian”? It was shown experimentally that young English-speaking children take the part-of-spech membership of a new word as a clue to [its] meaning. In this way they make use of the semantic distinctiveness of the parts of speech. It seems quite probable that speakers of other languages will also know about the semantics of their grammatical categories. Since these are strikingly different in unrelated languages, the speakers in question may have quite different cognitive categories. It remains to be determined how seriously and how generally thought is affected by these semantic distinctions.
X At the Northeast Corner At the circle Northeast of the circle. X X
Cheng, 1986; Gallistel, 1990; Hermer & Spelke, 1994
The language format supports new thought (Spelke, 2003) [given the geometric module]…a rat or child who has seen an object hidden to the left of a long wall searches reliably to the left of that wall…Children therefore may learn the meaning of the term left by relating expresions involving that term to purely geometric representations….Children also have relatively modular systems for learning about color and other properties of objects, permitting [learning of wall and blue]. The combinatorial machinery of language allows children to formulate and understand expressions such as left of the bluewall with no further learning. This expression cannot be formulated readily outside of language, because it crosscuts the child’s encapsulated core domains. Thanks to the language faculty, however, this expression serves to represent the conjunction of information quickly and flexibly. Such use may underly adults’ flexible spatial performance.
My response to [Fodor’s] argument is to grant it. Children learn many of the words of their language by relating those words to preexisting concepts. Moreover, children cannot learn, through language or any other means, any concepts that they cannot already represent. If children cannot represent the concept “left of the bllue thing,” then they cannot learn to represent it. Natural languages, however, have a magical property. Once the speaker has learned the terms of a language and the rules by which these terms combine, she can represent the meanings of all grammatical combinations of those terms without further learning. The compositinal semantics of natural languages allows children to know the meanings of new wholes from the meanings of their parts….Thanks to their cmpositional semantics, natural languages can expand the child’s conceptual repertoire to include not just the preexisting core knowledge concepts but also any new well-formed combination of those concepts.
Secure the building! …Lucas (5 years) told me about a new exercise they have in his school…He said that in addition to fire drills they now have Secure the Building. He explained that when there is a Secure the Building the children go into the coatroom (which is good, he said, because you can have a snack there or read a book). Or if there is a Secure the Building during music class, the children sit behind or next to the piano. I asked him why there are Secure the Buildings and he said in case something mean is in the school. Like what? I asked. He said perhaps a cheetah or a porcupine. I was especially struck by his uncertainty about what Secure the Building means: It might as well be Securethebuilding or Ingbuildsecurethe. The main thing is that it’s terribly exciting and sometimes you can have a snack.
The meaning of look _____________________________ “Look up!”
Blind understanding of color (Landau and Gleitman 1985) • Red is a color word; dirty is not. • Color is the supernym for color words. • “Can a cow be red?” • “I think they’re white or brown.” • “Can an idea be green?” • “That’s silly. Ideas are only in your head, you think about them.” • 4. Mapping onto the hues of things in the world.
Blind deficit (Landau and Gleitman 1985) • Color is the supernym for color words. • “Can a cow be red?” • “I think they’re white or brown.” • Red is a color word; dirty is not. • “Can an idea be green?” • “That’s silly. Ideas are only in your head, you think about them.” • 4. Mapping onto the hues of things in the world.
Brown + cow = brown cow. (and for a large proportion of A, AN is their intersection.) All past uses of “green” modified concrete objects. A variety of modifiers are restricted for use with concrete objects, e.g., tall, furry, sweet. In fact the range of use for “green” with this child seems to have been restricted to: - brail-coded crayons (ha ha) - stacking rings of different sizes
When language effects are achieved: IV. When they are momentary. …
Mandarin and English speakers’ conceptions of time. Lera Boroditsky (2001) Cognitive Psychology
Dread events lie ahead. Now they are behind us. This was true upto our own time. That was true of all governments down to 1863. Easter is coming up.
Easter precedes Christmas. Labor Day comes after Memorial Day.
Fodor is a Whorfian • Languages have different lexical items (words). • Words are nondecomposable monads. • Semantic representations (SR) and conceptual representations (CR) are coextensive. • Then, since we think in CRs, users of diffeent languages think differently. • So it follows that “nondompositionalists” are implicit Whorfians – a fact that they do not seem to have appreciated. • (Levinson, 2003).