Language as a model for culture: Lessons from the cognitive sciences
This paper surveys the concept of culture as used in recent work in cognitive science, assessing the very different (and sometimes minimal) role 'culture' plays in different branches and schools of linguistics: generative approaches, descriptive/comparative linguistics, typology, cognitive linguistics, semantics, pragmatics, psycholinguistics, linguistic and cognitive anthropology. The paper then describes research on one specific topic, spatial language and conceptualization, describes a methodology for studying it cross-linguistically and cross-culturally. Finally, it considers the implications of results in this area for how we can fruitfully conceptualize 'culture', arguing for an approach which shifts back and forth between individual mind and collective representations, between universals and particulars, and ties 'culture' to our biological roots.
Publication typeBook chapter