Stephen C. Levinson

Publications

Displaying 1 - 17 of 17
  • Dimitriadis, A., Kemps-Snijders, M., Wittenburg, P., Everaert, M., & Levinson, S. C. (2006). Towards a linguist's workbench supporting eScience methods. In Proceedings of the 2nd IEEE International Conference on e-Science and Grid Computing.
  • Enfield, N. J., & Levinson, S. C. (2006). Introduction: Human sociality as a new interdisciplinary field. In N. J. Enfield, & S. C. Levinson (Eds.), Roots of human sociality: Culture, cognition and interaction (pp. 1-35). Oxford: Berg.
  • Enfield, N. J., & Levinson, S. C. (Eds.). (2006). Roots of human sociality: Culture, cognition and interaction. Oxford: Berg.
  • Haun, D. B. M., Rapold, C. J., Call, J., Janzen, G., & Levinson, S. C. (2006). Cognitive cladistics and cultural override in Hominid spatial cognition. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 103(46), 17568-17573. doi:10.1073/pnas.0607999103.

    Abstract

    Current approaches to human cognition often take a strong nativist stance based on Western adult performance, backed up where possible by neonate and infant research and almost never by comparative research across the Hominidae. Recent research suggests considerable cross-cultural differences in cognitive strategies, including relational thinking, a domain where infant research is impossible because of lack of cognitive maturation. Here, we apply the same paradigm across children and adults of different cultures and across all nonhuman great ape genera. We find that both child and adult spatial cognition systematically varies with language and culture but that, nevertheless, there is a clear inherited bias for one spatial strategy in the great apes. It is reasonable to conclude, we argue, that language and culture mask the native tendencies in our species. This cladistic approach suggests that the correct perspective on human cognition is neither nativist uniformitarian nor ‘‘blank slate’’ but recognizes the powerful impact that language and culture can have on our shared primate cognitive biases.
  • Haun, D. B. M., Call, J., Janzen, G., & Levinson, S. C. (2006). Evolutionary psychology of spatial representations in the hominidae. Current Biology, 16(17), 1736-1740. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2006.07.049.

    Abstract

    Comparatively little is known about the inherited primate background underlying human cognition, the human cognitive “wild-type.” Yet it is possible to trace the evolution of human cognitive abilities and tendencies by contrasting the skills of our nearest cousins, not just chimpanzees, but all the extant great apes, thus showing what we are likely to have inherited from the common ancestor [1]. By looking at human infants early in cognitive development, we can also obtain insights into native cognitive biases in our species [2]. Here, we focus on spatial memory, a central cognitive domain. We show, first, that all nonhuman great apes and 1-year-old human infants exhibit a preference for place over feature strategies for spatial memory. This suggests the common ancestor of all great apes had the same preference. We then examine 3-year-old human children and find that this preference reverses. Thus, the continuity between our species and the other great apes is masked early in human ontogeny. These findings, based on both phylogenetic and ontogenetic contrasts, open up the prospect of a systematic evolutionary psychology resting upon the cladistics of cognitive preferences.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2006). Cognition at the heart of human interaction. Discourse Studies, 8(1), 85-93. doi:10.1177/1461445606059557.

    Abstract

    Sometimes it is thought that there are serious differences between theories of discourse that turn on the role of cognition in the theory. This is largely a misconception: for example, with its emphasis on participants’ own understandings, its principles of recipient design and projection, Conversation Analysis is hardly anti-cognitive. If there are genuine disagreements they rather concern a preference for ‘lean’ versus ‘rich’ metalanguages and different methodologies. The possession of a multi-levelled model, separating out what the individual brings to interaction from the emergent properties of interaction, would make it easier to resolve some of these issues. Meanwhile, these squabbles on the margins distract us from a much more central and more interesting issue: is there a very special cognition-for-interaction, which underlies and underpins all language and discourse? Prime facie evidence suggests that there is, and different approaches can contribute to our understanding of it.
  • Levinson, S. C., & Wilkins, D. P. (Eds.). (2006). Grammars of space: Explorations in cognitive diversity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2006). On the human "interaction engine". In N. J. Enfield, & S. C. Levinson (Eds.), Roots of human sociality: Culture, cognition and interaction (pp. 39-69). Oxford: Berg.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2006). Parts of the body in Yélî Dnye, the Papuan language of Rossel Island. Language Sciences, 28(2-3), 221-240. doi:10.1016/j.langsci.2005.11.007.

    Abstract

    This paper describes the terminology used to describe parts of the body in Ye´lıˆ Dnye, the Papuan language of Rossel Island (Papua New Guinea). The terms are nouns, which display complex patterns of suppletion in possessive and locative uses. Many of the terms are compounds, many unanalysable. Semantically, visible body parts divide into three main types: (i) a partonomic subsystem dividing the body into nine major parts: head, neck, two upper limbs, trunk, two upper legs, two lower legs, (ii) designated surfaces (e.g. ‘lower belly’), (iii) collections of surface features (‘face’), (iv) taxonomic subsystems (e.g. ‘big toe’ being a kind of ‘toe’). With regards to (i), the lack of any designation for ‘foot’ or ‘hand’ is notable, as is the absence of a term for ‘leg’ as a whole (although this is a lexical not a conceptual gap, as shown by the alternate taboo vocabulary). Ye´lıˆ Dnye body part terms do not have major extensions to other domains (e.g. spatial relators). Indeed, a number of the terms are clearly borrowed from outside human biology (e.g. ‘wing butt’ for shoulder).
  • Levinson, S. C., & Wilkins, D. P. (2006). Patterns in the data: Towards a semantic typology of spatial description. In S. C. Levinson, & D. P. Wilkins (Eds.), Grammars of space: Explorations in cognitive diversity (pp. 512-552). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2006). Language in the 21st century. Language, 82, 1-2.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2006). Matrilineal clans and kin terms on Rossel Island. Anthropological Linguistics, 48, 1-43.

    Abstract

    Yélî Dnye, the language of Rossel Island, Louisiade archipelago, Papua New Guinea, is a non-Austronesian isolate of considerable interest for the prehistory of the area. The kin term, clan, and kinship systems have some superficial similarities with surrounding Austronesian ones, but many underlying differences. The terminology, here properly described for the first time, is highly complex, and seems adapted to a dual descent system, with Crow-type skewing reflecting matrilineal descent, but a system of reciprocals also reflecting the "unity of the patriline." It may be analyzed in three mutually consistent ways: as a system of classificatory reciprocals, as a clan-based sociocentric system, and as collapses and skewings across a genealogical net. It makes an interesting contrast to the Trobriand system, and suggests that the alternative types of account offered by Edmund Leach and Floyd Lounsbury for the Trobriand system both have application to the Rossel system. The Rossel system has features (e.g., patrilineal biases, dual descent, collective [dyadic] kin terms, terms for alternating generations) that may be indicative of pre-Austronesian social systems of the area
  • Levinson, S. C. (2006). Introduction: The evolution of culture in a microcosm. In S. C. Levinson, & P. Jaisson (Eds.), Evolution and culture: A Fyssen Foundation Symposium (pp. 1-41). Cambridge: MIT Press.
  • Levinson, S. C., & Jaisson, P. (Eds.). (2006). Evolution and culture: A Fyssen Foundation Symposium. Cambridge: MIT Press.
  • Levinson, S. C., & Wilkins, D. P. (2006). The background to the study of the language of space. In S. C. Levinson, & D. P. Wilkins (Eds.), Grammars of space: Explorations in cognitive diversity (pp. 1-23). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Levinson, S. C. (2006). The language of space in Yélî Dnye. In S. C. Levinson, & D. P. Wilkins (Eds.), Grammars of space: Explorations in cognitive diversity (pp. 157-203). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Wittenburg, P., Broeder, D., Klein, W., Levinson, S. C., & Romary, L. (2006). Foundations of modern language resource archives. In Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC 2006) (pp. 625-628).

    Abstract

    A number of serious reasons will convince an increasing amount of researchers to store their relevant material in centers which we will call "language resource archives". They combine the duty of taking care of long-term preservation as well as the task to give access to their material to different user groups. Access here is meant in the sense that an active interaction with the data will be made possible to support the integration of new data, new versions or commentaries of all sort. Modern Language Resource Archives will have to adhere to a number of basic principles to fulfill all requirements and they will have to be involved in federations to create joint language resource domains making it even more simple for the researchers to access the data. This paper makes an attempt to formulate the essential pillars language resource archives have to adhere to.

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