Penelope Brown -
Description of research
My research broadly addresses the relationship between language, culture and cognition. As a linguistic anthropologist, I have worked for many years in the Tzeltal Maya community of Tenejapa, in southern Mexico, focussing on the study of language use in its sociocultural context. My research there has ranged across the study of Tzeltal spatial language and cognition, cross-cultural comparison of conversational structure and inference, the systematics of social interaction, the expression of social relations in speech, and principles of linguistic politeness. I also study Tzeltal child language acquisition and socialization, using crosslinguistic methodology to address questions about the acquisition of morphology and semantics, and more recently, social interaction of prelinguistic infants and their caregivers. The latter work is part of a comparative study of infant-caregiver interaction in Tzeltal Maya and in a second field site, on Rossel Island, Papua New Guinea. I am currently writing two books on Tzeltal: one on spatial language and cognition, the other on conversation.