Languages differ in how they describe space, and such differences between languages can be used to explore the relation between language and thought. This 2003 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 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.
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