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Title: Does what we say influence what we think? Examining the effect of language across three domains : colour, number, space-and-time
Authors: Tee, Shee Hui
Ooi, Zhi Heng
Wah, Claris Rou Lin
Keywords: DRNTU::Social sciences::Psychology
Issue Date: 2014
Abstract: Linguistic determinism, a key feature of the Whorfian Hypothesis, proposes that the language we speak will influence our cognition. This happens when language biases us to use concepts that are coded in language over those that are not (weak form), or when language determines our cognition (strong form). Hence, this paper aims to determine the extent of linguistic influence on cognition across three domains: colour, number, space-and-time, using evidence from three main perspectives: infant studies, experiments on non-linguistic tasks, neurological data. In the domain of colour, pre-linguistic infants are shown to have colour categorical perception. They become better at perceiving colours that are consistent with language-specific colour boundaries. Neurological data further support this finding by demonstrating lateralization effects consistent with the involvement of language in adults. In the domain of number, pre-linguistic infants have been shown to perform approximation tasks when the difference between two values is large. Adult speakers of language with limited quantification vocabularies performed worse than those with larger number vocabularies on tasks that require exact quantity concept. Neurological evidence further confirmed this finding: approximation is language-independent, while exact quantity is language-dependent. In the domain of space-and-time, pre-linguistic infants can use both allocentric and egocentric coding systems. However, language acquisition is shown to influence speakers to adopt one predominant strategy. Neurological data shed light on the possible link between language and cognition too, albeit more studies are required to confirm this relationship. Taken together, these findings show that language does influence our cognition to different extents.
Rights: Nanyang Technological University
Fulltext Permission: restricted
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:HSS Student Reports (FYP/IA/PA/PI)

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