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ERC Starting Grant for Niclas Burenhult
Niclas Burenhult (Lund University and MPI) has recently been awarded a European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant of 1.5 million euro. His project is called 'Language, cognition and landscape (LACOLA): understanding cross-cultural and individual variation in geographical ontology.'
October 28, 2010
What is the relationship between language, cognition and landscape? How do languages select geographic objects to be labelled? Are there universal categories? Which are the ontological principles of landscape categories? And how and why do categorial strategies vary across languages and speakers?
Breaking new ground
From the linguist's point of view, the geophysical environment is virtually unexplored, Niclas Burenhult states in his project proposal. 'Yet it is a fundamental spatial domain with enormous potential for influence on the discipline. This project will break new ground in the language sciences by pursuing a broadscale and in-depth linguistic inquiry into landscape.'
Burenhult and his colleagues will explore six diverse language settings -- in the Amazon, the American Southwest, the Arctic, Australia, Europe, and Southeast Asia. Each language setting represents a case study carried out by a project member with expert knowledge and prior field experience of the particular setting. The project builds on previous research on landscape coordinated by Burenhult within the Space project and Categories across Language and Cognition at MPI (see webpage). It will be hosted by the Humanities Laboratory at Lund University, headed by former MPI researcher Professor Marianne Gullberg.
Close research ties
'I'm very happy and grateful, and I'm proud to have landed the first ever ERC Starting Grant to the humanities in Sweden', says Burenhult. 'This is a unique opportunity to establish my own research team and to pursue my research interests 100%. My eight years in MPI's Language and Cognition group have been crucial to securing this grant, and I'm extremely grateful to my MPI colleagues for their support and kind help. I look forward to maintaining close research ties with the institute.'
See also Burenhult's personal page