Humboldt and Whorf Revisited: Universal and Culture-Specific Conceptualizations in Grammar and Lexis

Schmitz, Ulrich (1998)


Mülheim/Ruhr, April, 1 - 4, 1998


The purpose of the symposium was to arrive at a new interpretation of Humboldt's and Whorf's ideas on linguistic relativity in the light of recent insights into linguistic conceptualization. The focus was on new research findings confirming or falsifying the main claims of both these precursors of research into cognition and language.

Not only in theoretical linguistics, but also in the description of the lexicon and grammar of single languages, new findings abound that throw a special light on the links between language, culture and thought. This equally holds for most interdisciplinary fields such as anthropological linguistics, language acquisition, psycholinguistics, creole linguistics and sociolinguistics.

Some dozens of specialists on the subject met on the Ruhr, half-way between Duisburg University and Essen University, for nearly a week to discuss theoretical issues and new empirical data. 48 of them from 17 countries in five contents gave lectures on the topics listed below.

Most of the papers can be obtained at a moderate price (between DM 1.60 and DM 5.60 each) from LAUD via A special paper including all abstracts is DM 5.20. The whole lot (34 papers plus abstracts volume) is DM 104.00.

Please mail

Angeliki Athanasiadou (Aristotle University, Greece)
From temporality to causality: A universal or a culture-specific process?
Balthasar Bickel (Univ. of Zürich, Univ. of Mainz, U.C. Berkeley)
Grammar and Social Practice: On the Role of 'Culture' in Linguistic Relativity
Simo Bobda, Augustin (Cameroon)
On the Indigenization of English in Cameroon and New Englishisms
Ocke-Schwen Bohn (University of Aarhus, Denmark)
Linguistic Relativity in Speech Perception: An Overview of the Influence of Language Experience on the Perception of Speech Sounds from Infancy to Adulthood
Wallace Chafe (University of California, Santa Barbara, U.S.A.)
Constrained Diversity in Thought and Language
Zhiyuan Chen (Appalachian State University, Boone, U.S.A)
Lexical Cognition, Argument Structure and Culture. A Comparative Approach of Relocation Predication in Spanish, Chinese and English
Rebekka Ehret (University of Basel, Switzerland)
Language and culture in a creole environment
Nick J. Enfield
,Linguacentrism‘ in Culture and Thought
Cliff Goddard (University of New England, Australia)
Universal Semantic Primes of Space - a Lost Cause?
Gábor Györi (Jannus Pannonius University, Pecs, Hungary)
Semantic change, semantic theory and linguistic relativity
Bruce W. Hawkins (Illinois State University, U.S.A.)
Linguistic Relativity as a Function of Ideological Deixis
Paul R. Hays (Sugiyama Jogykuen University)
From the Jurassic Dark: Linguistic Relativity as Evolutionary Necessity
Rusandre Hendrikse (University of South Africa)
Language as an Indexical Code to Phyletic, Cultural and Experiential Information in the Brain
Paul J. Hopper (Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, U.S.A.)
Verbs and their Whorfian Ways: The View from Discourse
Juliane House (University of Hamburg, Germany)
Linguistic Relativity and Translation
Carlos Inchaurralde (University of Zaragoza, Spain)
Is it in the Mind or Is it in the Language? Mental Modalities and Linguistic Expression
Olaf Jäkel (University of Hamburg, Germany)
Linguistic Relativity Starts at Home: Denotational Incongruencies
Kristine Jensen de Lopez & Chris Sinha (University of Aarhus, Denmark)
Corn Stomach Basket: Spatial Language Comprehension by Danish and Zapotec Acquiring Children
John E. Joseph (University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom)
Two Strands in Whorfian Thought and Their Neo-Whorfian Implications
Demetra Katis (University of Thessaloniki, Greece) & Michael Maratsos (University of Minnesota, U.S.A.)
Grammatical Structure and Conceptual Understandings of Experiencer-Agency Relations
Konrad Koerner (University of Ottawa, Canada)
Towards a `Full Pedigree´ of the `Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis´: From Locke to Lucy
David B. Kronenfeld (University of California, Riverside, U.S.A.)
Language and Thought: The Nature of the Animal
Sydney M. Lamb (Rice University, Houston, U.S.A.)
Neurocognitive Structure in the Interplay of Language and Thought
Penny Lee (University of Western Australia, Australia)
The Operation of Linguistic Relativity in the Cognitive Domain
John A. Lucy (Max-Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, The Netherlands)
Recent Research on Linguistic Relativity: A Typology and Critical Evaluation
Robert MacLaury (University of Pennsylvania, U.S.A.)
Linguistic Relativity and the Plasticity of Categorization: Universalism in a New Key
Peter Mühlhäusler (University of Adelaide, Australia)
Humboldt, Whorf and the Roots of Ecolinguistics
Susanne Niemeier (University of Bremen, Germany)
Relativity in Language and Culture - a New Target in Foreign Language Teaching
Gary B. Palmer (University of Nevada, U.S.A.)
Ontological Classifiers as Heuristic Systems, as Seen in Shona Class 3 Nouns
Bert Peeters (University of Tasmania, Australia)
"S’engager" vs "to remain noncommittal": a study of two culture-specific values
Günter Radden (University of Hamburg, Germany)
Time is Space
Richard A. Rhodes (University of California, Berkeley, U.S.A.)
(Micro-)Categorization, Semantic Change, and the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis
Jan Schroten (University of Utrecht, The Netherlands)
Equivalence and Mismatch of Semantic Features: Collocations in English, Spanish, and Dutch
Gunter Senft (Max-Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Njmegen, The Netherlands)
Frames of Spatial Reference in Kilivila - Studies in Language, Cognition and the Conceptualization of Space
Dan I. Slobin (University of California, Berkeley, U.S.A.)
Verbalized Events: A Dynamic Approach to Linguistic Relativity and Determinism
Elzbieta Tabakowska (Jagiellonian University of Krakow, Poland)
Grammar and Ontology: a Case Study of Polish Religious Discourse
Robin Taylor (University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji)
Linguistic Relativity Theory in the Pacific
Jan Tent (University of The South Pacific, Suva, Fiji)
The Structure of Deictic Day-Name Systems: Evidence for Universal and Culture-Specific Conceptualisations of Diurnal Division of the Time Continuum?
Linda L. Thornburg (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary) &
Klaus-Uwe Panther (University of Hamburg, Germany)
Why We Subject Incorporate (in English): A Post-Whorfian View
Yishai Tobin (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel)
Benjamin Lee Whorf meets modern Hebrew
Jürgen Trabant (Free University of Berlin, Germany)
How Relativistic Are Humboldt’s 'Weltansichten'?
Friedrich Ungerer (University of Rostock, Germany)
Language, Thought and Conceptual Hierarchies
Marjolijn H. Verspoor (University of Groningen, The Netherlands)
Colourful Insights into "Which `Bits of Experience´ Count in Making Meaning"
Minglang Zhou & Ping Fu (University of Oregon, U.S.A.)
Metalinguistic Awareness in Linguistic Relativity: Cultural and Subcultural Practices across Chinese Dialect Communities