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James W. Pennebaker, Chair The University of Texas at Austin, SEA 4.212, Austin, TX 78712 • (512) 475-7596

Fall 2003

PSY 341K • Language and Thought-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
41140 TTh
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
GAR 109
BIRDSONG

Course Description

In this course we will explore some questions about the relation between language and thought, taking a Cognitive Science approach. Languages vary in many ways, yet the minds of speakers are similar. We will look at questions about the words people use and how they think; whether language structure affects thought; and some cognitive aspects of language. The course will begin with a short, general introduction to the study of language. The words people use affect and reflect the way they think. We'll consider studies of word use in areas such as war, politics, minority groups, by and about women. At the level of structure, we will study the 'Whorfian' hypothesis, which says in its strongest form that the structure of a language determines the way speakers think. There are interesting studies which compare speakers of English and languages with radically different structures. We will look at supporting and dissenting studies in areas such as color, time, and space. In studying the relation between language and cognition, we will look at clinical studies of normal children and adults, and pathological cases (spina bifida, Williams syndrome). We will ask whether language and cognitive development always proceed together, as they do in normal people, or whether the two can be dissociated.

Grading Policy

Final paper; homework; discussion notes; midterm exam

Texts

A packet of selected articles and book chapters.

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