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IAS-Research Talk by Ulises Rodríguez Jordá: Minds, bodies and languages: linguistic relativity from an enactive perspective

Thursday February 8 at 18:00 in Centro Carlos Santamaria room 5. The talk will be hybrid. If you want to participate, please contact

ABSTRACT: The idea that the languages we speak exert a differential influence on our cognition and behaviour, also known as the Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis, has experienced a remarkable resurgence in the last thirty years. There are compelling reasons to expect a theoretical convergence between these new findings and the enactive approach. However, some important theoretical obstacles remain. The argument explores these points of contact and divergence along the two premises into which linguistic relativity (LR) is usually divided: (a) the claim that language affects cognition and (b) the claim that the world’s languages differ in non-trivial ways. On the one hand, the enactive approach articulates an explicit theory of the first claim that goes beyond most contemporary research on LR, which remains highly tentative on this premise and anchored in classical cognitivist assumptions. On the other hand, the enactive approach is still to fully engage with the second claim of LR. Two difficulties are identified: the concept of ‘languaging’, central to post-cognitivist accounts of language, is in tension with the foundations of LR. At the same time, the bodily aspects of cognition have often been regarded as an antirelativistic constraint that seemingly diminishes the import of LR. Our proposal identifies the trade-offs required of both fields to further the interdisciplinary dialogue between them.

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