LINGUIST List 14.3244

Tue Nov 25 2003

Books: Cognitive Science: Levinson/Taub

Editor for this issue: Marisa Ferrara <>

Links to the websites of all LINGUIST's supporting publishers are available at the end of this issue.


  1. jreid, Space in Language and Cognition: Levinson
  2. jreid, Language from the Body: Taub

Message 1: Space in Language and Cognition: Levinson

Date: Tue, 25 Nov 2003 11:12:10 -0500 (EST)
From: jreid <>
Subject: Space in Language and Cognition: Levinson

Title: Space in Language and Cognition 
Subtitle: Explorations in Cognitive Diversity 
Series Title: Language Culture and Cognition, 5 

Publication Year: 2003 
Publisher: Cambridge University Press 

Book URL: 

Availability: Available 

Author: Stephen C. Levinson, Max Planck Institute for 

Paperback: ISBN: 0521011965, Pages: 414, Price: U.S.: 24 
Paperback: ISBN: 0521011965, Pages: 414, Price: U.K.: 17.95 


Languages differ in how they describe space, and such differences 
between languages can be used to explore the relation between language 
and thought. This book shows that even in a core cognitive domain like 
spatial thinking, language influences how people think, memorize and 
reason about spatial relations and directions. After outlining a 
typology of spatial coordinate systems in language and cognition, it 
is shown that not all languages use all types, and that non-linguistic 
cognition mirrors the systems available in the local language. The 
book reports on collaborative, interdisciplinary research, involving 
anthropologists, linguists and psychologists, conducted in many 
languages and cultures around the world, which establishes this robust 
correlation. The overall results suggest that most current thinking in 
the cognitive sciences underestimates the transformative power of 
language on thinking. The book will be of interest to linguists, 
psychologists, anthropologists and philosophers, and especially to 
students of spatial cognition. 

1. The intellectual background: two millenia of Western ideas about 
spatial thinking 
2. Frames of reference 
3. Linguistic diversity 
4. Absolute minds: glimpses into two cultures 
5. Diversity in mind: methods and results from a cross-linguistic 
6. Beyond language: frames of reference in wayfinding and pointing 
7. Language and thought. 

Lingfield(s):	Cognitive Science 
Philosophy of Language 

Written In: English (Language Code: English) 

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Message 2: Language from the Body: Taub

Date: Tue, 25 Nov 2003 11:03:23 -0500 (EST)
From: jreid <>
Subject: Language from the Body: Taub

Title: Language from the Body 
Subtitle: Iconicity and Metaphor in American Sign Language 

Publication Year: 2003 

Publisher: Cambridge University Press 

Book URL: 

Availability: Available 

Author: Sarah F. Taub, Gallaudet University, Washington DC 

Hardback: ISBN: 0521770629, Pages: 272, Price: U.S.: 58 
Hardback: ISBN: 0521770629, Pages: 272, Price: U.K.: 42.50 


What is the role of meaning in linguistic theory? Generative linguists 
have severely limited the influence of meaning, claiming that language 
is not affected by other cognitive processes and that semantics does 
not influence linguistic form. Conversely, cognitivist and 
functionalist linguists believe that meaning pervades and motivates 
all levels of linguistic structure. This dispute can now be resolved 
conclusively by evidence from signed languages. Signed languages are 
full of iconic linguistic items: words, inflections, and even 
syntactic constructions with structural similarities between their 
physical form and their referents' form. Iconic items can have 
concrete meanings and also abstract meanings through conceptual 
metaphors. Language from the Body rebuts the generativist linguistic 
theories which separate form and meaning and asserts that iconicity 
can only be described in a cognitivist framework where meaning can 
influence form. 

"Language from the Body will capture the imagination of all readers 
who are fascinated with the human language capacity. I expect the 
book to stand as one of the groundbreaking works on sign language, in 
a line with Klima and Bellugi's The Signs of Language, which opened 
the field to modern investigation over twenty years ago." 
-Dan I. Slobin, Department of Psychology, University of California, 

"In my view, this is more than a major contribution to modern metaphor 
theory, it's the most substantive advance towards a general account of 
the nature of the linguistic sign since Saussure and Pierce. 
Accessible, jargon-free, and yet full of scholarly depth, this book 
should be read by linguists, cognitive scientists, and by anyone 
intelligent who wants to know more about language and mind." 
-Eve Sweetser, Department of Linguistics, University of California, 

"Language from the Body presents an elegant and convincing analysis of 
iconicity in language, a topic usually swept under the rug, 
particularly by sign language linguists. This original and perceptive 
book will be a valuable resource for both linguists and cognitive 
-Karen Emmorey, Laboratory for Cognitive Neuroscience, The Salk 
Institute foy" Biological Studies 

"This book is liberating. It frees ASL from attempts to make it look 
as much as possible like spoken language and lets it be seen for the 
magnificent and poetic instrument of expression and communication that 
it is. In doing so, Taub changes the very idea of what a human 
language can be." 
-George Lakoff, co-author of Philosophy in the Flesh and Metaphors We 
Live By 

1. A glimpse of the material 
2. Motivation and linguistic theory 
3. Iconicity defined and demonstrated 
4. The analogue-building model of linguistic iconicity 
5. Survey of iconicity in signed and spoken languages 
6. Metaphor in ASL: the double mapping 
7. Many metaphors in a single sign 
8. The vertical scale as source domain 
9. Verb agreement paths in ASL 
10. Complex superposition of metaphors in an ASL poem 
11. The future of signed-language research. 

Lingfield(s): Cognitive Science 
Linguistic Theories 

Subject Language(s): American Sign Language (Language Code: ASE) 

Written In: English (Language Code: English) 

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