Stephen C. Levinson

Publications

Displaying 1 - 36 of 36
  • Ameka, F. K., & Levinson, S. C. (2007). Introduction-The typology and semantics of locative predicates: Posturals, positionals and other beasts. Linguistics, 45(5), 847-872. doi:10.1515/LING.2007.025.

    Abstract

    This special issue is devoted to a relatively neglected topic in linguistics, namely the verbal component of locative statements. English tends, of course, to use a simple copula in utterances like “The cup is on the table”, but many languages, perhaps as many as half of the world's languages, have a set of alternate verbs, or alternate verbal affixes, which contrast in this slot. Often these are classificatory verbs of 'sitting', 'standing' and 'lying'. For this reason, perhaps, Aristotle listed position among his basic (“noncomposite”) categories.
  • Ameka, F. K., & Levinson, S. C. (Eds.). (2007). The typology and semantics of locative predication: Posturals, positionals and other beasts [Special Issue]. Linguistics, 45(5).

    Abstract

    This special issue is devoted to a relatively neglected topic in linguistics, namely the verbal component of locative statements. English tends, of course, to use a simple copula in utterances like “The cup is on the table”, but many languages, perhaps as many as half of the world's languages, have a set of alternate verbs, or alternate verbal affixes, which contrast in this slot. Often these are classificatory verbs of ‘sitting’, ‘standing’ and ‘lying’. For this reason, perhaps, Aristotle listed position among his basic (“noncomposite”) categories.
  • Boroditsky, L., Gaby, A., & Levinson, S. C. (2007). Time in space. In A. Majid (Ed.), Field manual volume 10 (pp. 59-80). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. doi:10.17617/2.468721.

    Abstract

    This Field Manual entry has been superceded by the 2008 version: https://doi.org/10.17617/2.492932

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  • Brown, P., & Levinson, S. C. (2007). Gesichtsbedrohende Akte [reprint: Face-threatening acts, 1987]. In S. K. Herrmann, S. Kraemer, & H. Kuch (Eds.), Verletzende Worte: Die Grammatik sprachlicher Missachtung (pp. 59-88). Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag.

    Abstract

    This article is a reprint of parts of chapters 2 and 3 from Brown and Levinson (1987) discussing the concept of 'Face Threatening Acts'.
  • Dunn, M., Foley, R., Levinson, S. C., Reesink, G., & Terrill, A. (2007). Statistical reasoning in the evaluation of typological diversity in Island Melanesia. Oceanic Linguistics, 46(2), 388-403.

    Abstract

    This paper builds on a previous work in which we attempted to retrieve a phylogenetic signal using abstract structural features alone, as opposed to cognate sets, drawn from a sample of Island Melanesian languages, both Oceanic (Austronesian) and (non-Austronesian) Papuan (Science 2005[309]: 2072-75 ). Here we clarify a number of misunderstandings of this approach, referring particularly to the critique by Mark Donohue and Simon Musgrave (in this same issue of Oceanic Linguistics), in which they fail to appreciate the statistical principles underlying computational phylogenetic methods. We also present new analyses that provide stronger evidence supporting the hypotheses put forward in our original paper: a reanalysis using Bayesian phylogenetic inference demonstrates the robustness of the data and methods, and provides a substantial improvement over the parsimony method used in our earlier paper. We further demonstrate, using the technique of spatial autocorrelation, that neither proximity nor Oceanic contact can be a major determinant of the pattern of structural variation of the Papuan languages, and thus that the phylogenetic relatedness of the Papuan languages remains a serious hypothesis.
  • Enfield, N. J., Levinson, S. C., De Ruiter, J. P., & Stivers, T. (2007). Building a corpus of multimodal interaction in your field site. In A. Majid (Ed.), Field Manual Volume 10 (pp. 96-99). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. doi:10.17617/2.468728.

    Abstract

    Research on video- and audio-recordings of spontaneous naturally-occurring conversation in English has shown that conversation is a rule-guided, practice-oriented domain that can be investigated for its underlying mechanics or structure. Systematic study could yield something like a grammar for conversation. The goal of this task is to acquire a corpus of video-data, for investigating the underlying structure(s) of interaction cross-linguistically and cross-culturally.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2007). Imi no suitei [Japanese translation of 'Presumptive meanings', 2000]. Tokyo: Kenkyusha.

    Abstract

    When we speak, we mean more than we say. In this book, the author explains some general processes that underlie presumptions in communication. This is the first extended discussion of preferred interpretation in language understanding, integrating much of the best research in linguistic pragmatics from the last two decades. Levinson outlines a theory of presumptive meanings, or preferred interpretations, governing the use of language, building on the idea of implicature developed by the philosopher H. P. Grice. Some of the indirect information carried by speech is presumed by default because it is carried by general principles, rather than inferred from specific assumptions about intention and context. Levinson examines this class of general pragmatic inferences in detail, showing how they apply to a wide range of linguistic constructions. This approach has radical consequences for how we think about language and communication.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2007). Optimizing person reference - perspectives from usage on Rossel Island. In N. Enfield, & T. Stivers (Eds.), Person reference in interaction: Linguistic, cultural, and social perspectives (pp. 29-72). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Abstract

    This chapter explicates the requirement in person–reference for balancing demands for recognition, minimalization, explicitness and indirection. This is illustrated with reference to data from repair of failures of person–reference within a particular linguistic/cultural context, namely casual interaction among Rossel Islanders. Rossel Island (PNG) offers a ‘natural experiment’ for studying aspects of person reference, because of a number of special properties: 1. It is a closed universe of 4000 souls, sharing one kinship network, so in principle anyone could be recognizable from a reference. As a result no (complex) descriptions (cf. ‘ the author of Waverly’) are employed. 2. Names, however, are never uniquely referring, since they are drawn from a fixed pool. They are only used for about 25% of initial references, another 25% of initial references being done by kinship triangulation (‘that man’s father–in–law’). Nearly 50% of initial references are semantically underspecified or vague (e.g. ‘that girl’). 3. There are systematic motivations for oblique reference, e.g. kinship–based taboos and other constraints, which partly account for the underspecified references. The ‘natural experiment’ thus reveals some gneral lessons about how person–reference requires optimizing multiple conflicting constraints. Comparison with Sacks and Schegloff’s (1979) treatment of English person reference suggests a way to tease apart the universal and the culturally–particular.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2007). Pragmática [Portugese translation of 'Pragmatics', 1983]. Sao Paulo: Martins Fontes Editora.

    Abstract

    The purpose of this book is to provide some indication of the scope of linguistic pragmatics. First the historical origin of the term pragmatics will be briefly summarized, in order to indicate some usages of the term that are divergent from the usage in this book. We will review some definitions of the field, which, while being less than fully statisfactory, will at least serve to indicate the rough scope of linguistic pragmatics. Thirdly, some reasons for the current interest in the field will be explained, while a final section illustrates some basic kinds of pragmatic phenomena. In passing, some analytical notions that are useful background will be introduced.
  • Levinson, S. C., Majid, A., & Enfield, N. J. (2007). Language of perception: The view from language and culture. In A. Majid (Ed.), Field Manual Volume 10 (pp. 10-21). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. doi:10.17617/2.468738.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2007). Cut and break verbs in Yélî Dnye, the Papuan language of Rossel Island. Cognitive Linguistics, 18(2), 207-218. doi:10.1515/COG.2007.009.

    Abstract

    The paper explores verbs of cutting and breaking (C&B, hereafter) in Yeli Dnye, the Papuan language of Rossel Island. The Yeli Dnye verbs covering the C&B domain do not divide it in the expected way, with verbs focusing on special instruments and manners of action on the one hand, and verbs focusing on the resultant state on the other. Instead, just three transitive verbs and their intransitive counterparts cover most of the domain, and they are all based on 'exotic' distinctions in mode of severance[--]coherent severance with the grain vs. against the grain, and incoherent severance (regardless of grain).
  • Levinson, S. C., Senft, G., & Majid, A. (2007). Emotion categories in language and thought. In A. Majid (Ed.), Field Manual Volume 10 (pp. 46-52). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. doi:10.17617/2.492892.

    Supplementary material

    French_emotion_questionnaire.pdf
  • Levinson, S. C., & Majid, A. (2007). The language of sound. In A. Majid (Ed.), Field Manual Volume 10 (pp. 29-31). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. doi:10.17617/2.468735.
  • Levinson, S. C., & Majid, A. (2007). The language of vision II: Shape. In A. Majid (Ed.), Field Manual Volume 10 (pp. 26-28). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. doi:10.17617/2.468732.
  • Majid, A., & Levinson, S. C. (2007). Language of perception: Overview of field tasks. In A. Majid (Ed.), Field Manual Volume 10 (pp. 8-9). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. doi:10.17617/2.492898.
  • Majid, A., Senft, G., & Levinson, S. C. (2007). The language of olfaction. In A. Majid (Ed.), Field Manual Volume 10 (pp. 36-41). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. doi:10.17617/2.492910.
  • Majid, A., Senft, G., & Levinson, S. C. (2007). The language of touch. In A. Majid (Ed.), Field Manual Volume 10 (pp. 32-35). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. doi:10.17617/2.492907.
  • Majid, A., & Levinson, S. C. (2007). The language of vision I: colour. In A. Majid (Ed.), Field Manual Volume 10 (pp. 22-25). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. doi:10.17617/2.492901.
  • Senft, G., Majid, A., & Levinson, S. C. (2007). The language of taste. In A. Majid (Ed.), Field Manual Volume 10 (pp. 42-45). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. doi:10.17617/2.492913.
  • Stivers, T., Enfield, N. J., & Levinson, S. C. (2007). Person reference in interaction. In N. J. Enfield, & T. Stivers (Eds.), Person reference in interaction: Linguistic, cultural, and social perspectives (pp. 1-20). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Bowerman, M., & Levinson, S. C. (Eds.). (2001). Language acquisition and conceptual development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Abstract

    Recent years have seen a revolution in our knowledge of how children learn to think and speak. In this volume, leading scholars from these rapidly evolving fields of research examine the relationship between child language acquisition and cognitive development. At first sight, advances in the two areas seem to have moved in opposing directions: the study of language acquisition has been especially concerned with diversity, explaining how children learn languages of widely different types, while the study of cognitive development has focused on uniformity, clarifying how children build on fundamental, presumably universal concepts. This book brings these two vital strands of investigation into close dialogue, suggesting a synthesis in which the process of language acquisition may interact with early cognitive development. It provides empirical contributions based on a variety of languages, populations and ages, and theoretical discussions that cut across the disciplines of psychology, linguistics and anthropology.
  • Enfield, N. J., Levinson, S. C., & Meria, S. (2001). Recognitional deixis. In S. C. Levinson, & N. J. Enfield (Eds.), Manual for the field season 2001 (pp. 78-81). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. doi:10.17617/2.874641.

    Abstract

    “Recognitional” words and constructions enshrine our systematic reliance on shared knowledge in dedicated morphological forms and usage patterns. For example, English has a large range of terms for use when a speaker cannot locate the word or name for something or someone (e.g., whatsit, what’s-his-name), but thinks that the interlocutor knows, or can easily work out, what the speaker is talking about. This task aims to identify and investigate these kinds of expressions in the research language, including their grammaticalised status, meaning, distribution, and productivity. The task consists of a questionnaire with examples of relevant hypothetical scenarios that can be used in eliciting the relevant terms. The researcher is then encouraged to pursue further questions in regard to these items.
  • Levinson, S. C., Bohnemeyer, J., & Enfield, N. J. (2001). “Time and space” questionnaire for “space in thinking” subproject. In S. C. Levinson, & N. J. Enfield (Eds.), Manual for the field season 2001 (pp. 14-20). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics.

    Abstract

    This entry contains: 1. An invitation to think about to what extent the grammar of space and time share lexical and morphosyntactic resources − the suggestions here are only prompts, since it would take a long questionnaire to fully explore this; 2. A suggestion about how to collect gestural data that might show us to what extent the spatial and temporal domains, have a psychological continuity. This is really the goal − but you need to do the linguistic work first or in addition. The goal of this task is to explore the extent to which time is conceptualised on a spatial basis.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2001). Motion verb stimulus, version 2. In S. C. Levinson, & N. J. Enfield (Eds.), Manual for the field season 2001 (pp. 9-13). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. doi:10.17617/2.874650.

    Abstract

    How do languages express ideas of movement, and how do they package different components of this domain, such as manner and path of motion? This task uses one large set of stimuli to gain knowledge of certain key aspects of motion verb meanings in the target language, and expands the investigation beyond simple verbs (e.g., go) to include the semantics of motion predications complete with adjuncts (e.g., go across something). Consultants are asked to view and briefly describe 96 animations of a few seconds each. The task is designed to get linguistic elicitations of motion predications under contrastive comparison with other animations in the same set. Unlike earlier tasks, the stimuli focus on inanimate moving items or “figures” (in this case, a ball).
  • Levinson, S. C. (2001). Place and space in the sculpture of Anthony Gormley - An anthropological perspective. In S. D. McElroy (Ed.), Some of the facts (pp. 68-109). St Ives: Tate Gallery.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2001). Pragmatics. In N. Smelser, & P. Baltes (Eds.), International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences: Vol. 17 (pp. 11948-11954). Oxford: Pergamon.
  • Levinson, S. C., & Enfield, N. J. (2001). Preface and priorities. In S. C. Levinson, & N. J. Enfield (Eds.), Manual for the field season 2001 (pp. 3). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics.
  • Levinson, S. C., Enfield, N. J., & Senft, G. (2001). Kinship domain for 'space in thinking' subproject. In S. C. Levinson, & N. J. Enfield (Eds.), Manual for the field season 2001 (pp. 85-88). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. doi:10.17617/2.874655.
  • Levinson, S. C., & Wittenburg, P. (2001). Language as cultural heritage - Promoting research and public awareness on the Internet. In J. Renn (Ed.), ECHO - An Infrastructure to Bring European Cultural Heritage Online (pp. 104-111). Berlin: Max Planck Institute for the History of Science.

    Abstract

    The ECHO proposal aims to bring to life the cultural heritage of Europe, through internet technology that encourages collaboration across the Humanities disciplines which interpret it – at the same time making all this scholarship accessible to the citizens of Europe. An essential part of the cultural heritage of Europe is the diverse set of languages used on the continent, in their historical, literary and spoken forms. Amongst these are the ‘hidden languages’ used by minorities but of wide interest to the general public. We take the 18 Sign Languages of the EEC – the natural languages of the deaf - as an example. Little comparative information about these is available, despite their special scientific importance, the widespread public interest and the policy implications. We propose a research project on these languages based on placing fully annotated digitized moving images of each of these languages on the internet. This requires significant development of multi-media technology which would allow distributed annotation of a central corpus, together with the development of special search techniques. The technology would have widespread application to all cultural performances recorded as sound plus moving images. Such a project captures in microcosm the essence of the ECHO proposal: cultural heritage is nothing without the humanities research which contextualizes and gives it comparative assessment; by marrying information technology to humanities research, we can bring these materials to a wider public while simultaneously boosting Europe as a research area.
  • Levinson, S. C., Kita, S., & Enfield, N. J. (2001). Locally-anchored narrative. In S. C. Levinson, & N. J. Enfield (Eds.), Manual for the field season 2001 (pp. 147). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. doi:10.17617/2.874660.

    Abstract

    As for 'Locally-anchored spatial gestures task, version 2', a major goal of this task is to elicit locally-anchored spatial gestures across different cultures. “Locally-anchored spatial gestures” are gestures that are roughly oriented to the actual geographical direction of referents. Rather than set up an interview situation, this task involves recording informal, animated narrative delivered to a native-speaker interlocutor. Locally-anchored gestures produced in such narrative are roughly comparable to those collected in the interview task. The data collected can also be used to investigate a wide range of other topics.
  • Levinson, S. C., & Enfield, N. J. (Eds.). (2001). Manual for the field season 2001. Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2001). Maxim. In S. Duranti (Ed.), Key terms in language and culture (pp. 139-142). Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2001). Covariation between spatial language and cognition. In M. Bowerman, & S. C. Levinson (Eds.), Language acquisition and conceptual development (pp. 566-588). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Levinson, S. C., Kita, S., & Ozyurek, A. (2001). Demonstratives in context: Comparative handicrafts. In S. C. Levinson, & N. J. Enfield (Eds.), Manual for the field season 2001 (pp. 52-54). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. doi:10.17617/2.874663.

    Abstract

    Demonstratives (e.g., words such as this and that in English) pivot on relationships between the item being talked about, and features of the speech act situation (e.g., where the speaker and addressee are standing or looking). However, they are only rarely investigated multi-modally, in natural language contexts. This task is designed to build a video corpus of cross-linguistically comparable discourse data for the study of “deixis in action”, while simultaneously supporting the investigation of joint attention as a factor in speaker selection of demonstratives. In the task, two or more speakers are asked to discuss and evaluate a group of similar items (e.g., examples of local handicrafts, tools, produce) that are placed within a relatively defined space (e.g., on a table). The task can additionally provide material for comparison of pointing gesture practices.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2001). Space: Linguistic expression. In N. Smelser, & P. Baltes (Eds.), International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences: Vol. 22 (pp. 14749-14752). Oxford: Pergamon.
  • Meira, S., & Levinson, S. C. (2001). Topological tasks: General introduction. In S. C. Levinson, & N. J. Enfield (Eds.), Manual for the field season 2001 (pp. 29-51). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. doi:10.17617/2.874665.

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