Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

Institut für Deutsch als Fremdsprachenphilologie

Language Effects on Conceptualization

Speaker: Scott Jarvis


Affiliation: Ohio University, jarvis@ohio.edu


Title: Language Effects on Conceptualization


Abstract:

Statements about the relationship between language and cognition represent varying degrees of controversy. Least controversial is the notion that cognition affects language use, as it is obvious that our cognitive activities affect what we say, how we say it, and indeed what we even talk about. More controversial is the notion that speakers of different languages engage in different patterns of cognition, and most controversial is the claim that the structural properties of the individual languages they speak are the cause of these differences. This paper explores each of these hypotheses in relation to forms of cognition referred to as conceptualization. The purpose of the paper is to (a) discuss theoretical explanations of the nature of conceptualization and of the characteristics of language use that it governs, (b) examine the existing evidence for whether speakers of different languages engage in different patterns of cognition, and (c) examine the existing evidence for whether the structural properties of individual languages are responsible for such differences. Throughout the paper, emphasis is given to findings and implications related to bilingualism and second language acquisition.