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Language Variation and Thought


Language Variation and Thought

This course explores research on the significance of language variation in shaping thought.  The first unit of the course provides introduces historical and conceptual perspectives on the relation of language and reality that continue to shape our understanding of language variation and surveys early work in anthropology (Boas, Sapir, Whorf) and psychology (Brown, Lenneberg, Carroll) linking language variation to thought.  Classic topics involving lexical forms denoting “color” and “snow” will be discussed critically.  The second unit reviews prominent contemporary approaches from within anthropological linguistics (Lucy, Levinson, etc.) and psychology (Slobin, Boroditsky, etc.). The third unit reviews recent research extending these approaches to new populations including the deaf, young children, bilinguals, etc. The final unit explores variations in the cultural and institutional regimentation of language-thought relationships, first in the areas of standard language as promulgated through education and literacy, and then within the research enterprise itself in areas involving practical translation, including comparative linguistic research.  

Course Status: Closed

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Four-week Session


1:10 pm-3:00 pm
1:10 pm-3:00 pm