Stephen C. Levinson

Publications

Displaying 1 - 31 of 31
  • 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    This Field Manual entry has been superceded by the 2008 version: https://doi.org/10.17617/2.492932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.
  • Bohnemeyer, J., Burenhult, N., Levinson, S. C., & Enfield, N. J. (2003). Landscape terms and place names questionnaire. In N. J. Enfield (Ed.), Field research manual 2003, part I: Multimodal interaction, space, event representation (pp. 60-63). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. doi:10.17617/2.877604.

    Abstract

    Landscape terms reflect the relationship between geographic reality and human cognition. Are ‘mountains’, ‘rivers, ‘lakes’ and the like universally recognised in languages as naturally salient objects to be named? The landscape subproject is concerned with the interrelation between language, cognition and geography. Specifically, it investigates issues relating to how landforms are categorised cross-linguistically as well as the characteristics of place naming.
  • Dunn, M., Levinson, S. C., Lindström, E., Reesink, G., & Terrill, A. (2003). Island Melanesia elicitation materials. Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. doi:10.17617/2.885547.

    Abstract

    The Island Melanesia project was initiated to collect data on the little-known Papuan languages of Island Melanesia, and to explore the origins of and relationships between these languages. The project materials from the 2003 field season focus on language related to cultural domains (e.g., material culture) and on targeted grammatical description. Five tasks are included: Proto-Oceanic lexicon, Grammatical questionnaire and lexicon, Kinship questionnaire, Domains of likely pre-Austronesian terminology, and Botanical collection questionnaire.
  • Enfield, N. J., De Ruiter, J. P., Levinson, S. C., & Stivers, T. (2003). Multimodal interaction in your field site: A preliminary investigation. In N. J. Enfield (Ed.), Field research manual 2003, part I: Multimodal interaction, space, event representation (pp. 10-16). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. doi:10.17617/2.877638.

    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
  • Enfield, N. J., & Levinson, S. C. (2003). Interview on kinship. In N. J. Enfield (Ed.), Field research manual 2003, part I: Multimodal interaction, space, event representation (pp. 64-65). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. doi:10.17617/2.877629.

    Abstract

    We want to know how people think about their field of kin, on the supposition that it is quasi-spatial. To get some insights here, we need to video a discussion about kinship reckoning, the kinship system, marriage rules and so on, with a view to looking at both the linguistic expressions involved, and the gestures people use to indicate kinship groups and relations. Unlike the task in the 2001 manual, this task is a direct interview method.
  • Levinson, S. C., & Meira, S. (2003). 'Natural concepts' in the spatial topological domain - adpositional meanings in crosslinguistic perspective: An exercise in semantic typology. Language, 79(3), 485-516.

    Abstract

    Most approaches to spatial language have assumed that the simplest spatial notions are (after Piaget) topological and universal (containment, contiguity, proximity, support, represented as semantic primitives suchas IN, ON, UNDER, etc.). These concepts would be coded directly in language, above all in small closed classes suchas adpositions—thus providing a striking example of semantic categories as language-specific projections of universal conceptual notions. This idea, if correct, should have as a consequence that the semantic categories instantiated in spatial adpositions should be essentially uniform crosslinguistically. This article attempts to verify this possibility by comparing the semantics of spatial adpositions in nine unrelated languages, with the help of a standard elicitation procedure, thus producing a preliminary semantic typology of spatial adpositional systems. The differences between the languages turn out to be so significant as to be incompatible withstronger versions of the UNIVERSAL CONCEPTUAL CATEGORIES hypothesis. Rather, the language-specific spatial adposition meanings seem to emerge as compact subsets of an underlying semantic space, withcertain areas being statistical ATTRACTORS or FOCI. Moreover, a comparison of systems withdifferent degrees of complexity suggests the possibility of positing implicational hierarchies for spatial adpositions. But such hierarchies need to be treated as successive divisions of semantic space, as in recent treatments of basic color terms. This type of analysis appears to be a promising approachfor future work in semantic typology.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2003). Language and cognition. In W. Frawley (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Linguistics (pp. 459-463). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2003). Language and mind: Let's get the issues straight! In D. Gentner, & S. Goldin-Meadow (Eds.), Language in mind: Advances in the study of language and cognition (pp. 25-46). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2003). Contextualizing 'contextualization cues'. In S. Eerdmans, C. Prevignano, & P. Thibault (Eds.), Language and interaction: Discussions with John J. Gumperz (pp. 31-39). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Levinson, S. C., & Brown, P. (2003). Emmanuel Kant chez les Tenejapans: L'Anthropologie comme philosophie empirique [Translated by Claude Vandeloise for 'Langues et Cognition']. Langues et Cognition, 239-278.

    Abstract

    This is a translation of Levinson and Brown (1994).
  • Levinson, S. C. (2003). Space in language and cognition: Explorations in cognitive diversity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2003). Spatial language. In L. Nadel (Ed.), Encyclopedia of cognitive science (pp. 131-137). London: Nature Publishing Group.

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