Methodological approaches in the study of linguistic relativity

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Empirical research on linguistic relativity faces three methodological challenges. First, it must identify and characterize a language contrast where the semantic structures of different languages produce distinct referential interpretations. Second, on the basis of those language patterns it must articulate specific cognitive entailments or predictions and then assess for evidence of their presence in cognitive activity. And third, it must establish the influence or shaping role of language on the cognitive patterns by using an array of strategic assessments that make competing accounts of the cognitive patterns unlikely. This chapter reviews these challenges, outlines strategies available to address them, and provides examples of each. The examples are all drawn from research on patterns of number marking.


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