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Do languages shape the way we think?
On August 26, 2010, the online magazine of the New York Times has published an extensive story on how languages shape the way people think. It's covering much of the space research done by the Language and Cognition group at the MPI for Psycholinguistics.
August 27, 2010
The New York Times article provides an overview of various iterations of the idea that languages shape the way we think, focusing on the language of space as 'the area where the most striking evidence for the influence of language on thought has come to light'. It chronicles how the discovery of absolute systems of reckoning space, as in the Australian language Guugu Yimithirr, inspired a large-scale research project into the language of space in Stephen Levinson's Language and Cognition group.
'Using cross-linguistic variation as a source of insight into language
and cognition has always been one of the focal points of work in the Language and Cognition group', says MPI director Stephen Levinson. The Space project pioneered the use of systematic cross-cultural data and led to high impact publications in major journals. The concludes by highlighting the importance of research into language diversity. 'As a first step toward understanding one another, we can do better than pretending we all think the same.'