Language Reflects “Core” Cognition: A New Theory About the Origin of Cross-Linguistic Regularities

Cognitive Science 41 (1):70-101 (2017)
  Copy   BIBTEX


The underlying structures that are common to the world's languages bear an intriguing connection with early emerging forms of “core knowledge” (Spelke & Kinzler, 2007), which are frequently studied by infant researchers. In particular, grammatical systems often incorporate distinctions (e.g., the mass/count distinction) that reflect those made in core knowledge (e.g., the non-verbal distinction between an object and a substance). Here, I argue that this connection occurs because non-verbal core knowledge systematically biases processes of language evolution. This account potentially explains a wide range of cross-linguistic grammatical phenomena that currently lack an adequate explanation. Second, I suggest that developmental researchers and cognitive scientists interested in (non-verbal) knowledge representation can exploit this connection to language by using observations about cross-linguistic grammatical tendencies to inspire hypotheses about core knowledge.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 91,271

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

No need for instinct.Raymond W. Gibbs & Nathaniel Clark - 2012 - Pragmatics and Cognition 20 (2):241-262.
Symbol Interdependency in Symbolic and Embodied Cognition.Max M. Louwerse - 2011 - Topics in Cognitive Science 3 (2):273-302.
The Role of Language in a Science of Emotion.Asifa Majid - 2012 - Emotion Review 4 (4):380-381.
Triad. Method for studying the core of the semiotic parity of language and art.Vladimir Breskin - 2010 - Signs - International Journal of Semiotics 3 (2010):1-28.
Distributed language and dynamics.Stephen J. Cowley - 2009 - Pragmatics and Cognition 17 (3):495-508.


Added to PP

19 (#771,453)

6 months
6 (#506,019)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Brent Strickland
Institut Jean Nicod

References found in this work

Natural language and natural selection.Steven Pinker & Paul Bloom - 1990 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 13 (4):707-27.
Verbs and times.Zeno Vendler - 1957 - Philosophical Review 66 (2):143-160.
Word Meaning and Montague Grammar.David R. Dowty - 1982 - Philosophical Review 91 (2):290-295.

View all 25 references / Add more references