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Universal and language-specific patterns of categorisation

Athanasopoulos, P. (2008) Universal and language-specific patterns of categorisation. Glossa, 4 (1). pp. 51-72. ISSN 1931-7778

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Abstract/Summary

Previous work on object classification preferences shows that speakers of languages that lack morphological plural marking (like Yucatec and Japanese) display a tendency to match objects by common material, while speakers of languages with morphological plural marking (like English) display a tendency to match objects by common shape. The present paper compares categorisation preferences of English and Japanese speakers with those of Greek speakers. Greek resembles English in that it has morphological plural marking, but contrasts with English in that mass nouns typically do not resist pluralization. Results show that all groups distinguish significantly between countable objects and non-countable substances, but the degree to which they do this differs and conforms to language-specific grammatical patterns. It is argued that the effects of grammatical structure on categorisation preferences are finer-grained than earlier studies have assumed, thus providing a more precise account of the extent and nature of linguistic influence on cognition.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:No Reading authors. Back catalogue items
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Clinical Language Sciences
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Language and Cognition
ID Code:33613
Uncontrolled Keywords:linguistic relativity; language and thought; object classification; quantification
Publisher:Universidad del Turabo

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