Language and Cognition -
Linguistic Diversity and Processing
Languages exhibit an extraordinary degree of variability at all levels of organization; human minds are able to use any one of these alternative systems with equal facility. This project is concerned with the relationship between linguistic diversity and cognitive processes. To what extent do the structural and semantic properties of individual languages affect the processes by which speakers understand and produce speech? What mechanisms, conversely, are largely invariant across populations?
Under the rubric of linguistic diversity this project is also concerned with examining semantic and syntactic categories from a comparative typological perspective, and exploring where such categories come from: what factors, cognitive, cultural and communicative, induce these categories (and not others) and shape and constrain their cross-linguistic expression?
A range of off-line and on-line experimental methods is employed to investigate these questions, complemented by classical field methods, corpus studies, cross-linguistic surveys and questionnaires.