第一講：名詞類別與文化 Nominal Classification
講者：Gunter Senft 教授
Prof. Senft’s second lecture explores the problem of nominal classification. The main question is to determine how humans use language to organize, categorize and communicate about the perceived word.
In order to understand the relation between language and world, Prof. Senft will discuss different typologies of nominal classification found in natural languages. Then, by studying the Kilivila language of the Trobriand Islands, he will raise some questions that are relevant to Cognitive Linguistics: Are the systems of nominal classification universal or culture-related? What do linguistic categories classify: extralinguistic referents or intralinguistic categories such as ‘nouns’? Also, given that classifiers also carry their own meaning, does their meaning influence what is classified or does the meaning of their objects influence them?
Although many of the classifiers in the Kilivila language seem to rely on universal categories, Prof. Senft will show that these categories are always expressed in a cultural-specific way and that, from this perspective, language influences thought.
INTRODUCTION OF THE LECTURE SERIES
In this series of five lectures, Prof. Senft will introduce some anthropological and linguistical perspectives on the study of the relation between language, culture and cognition. Prof. Senft’s main subject of research is the culture of the Trobriand Islanders and their language, Kivilila, one of the 40 Austronesian languages spoken in the Milne Bay province of Papua New Guinea.
By presenting the results of his long-term field research with the Trobrianders, Prof. Senft addresses crucial questions for linguistics, anthropology, philosophy and other fields of human sciences. For instance: Is there evidence for the hypothesis of “linguistic relativism”, i.e. the idea that language influences (or determines) thought? How does language influence perception (for instance, how do different linguistic categorizations of space influence the way we perceive space)? What is the role of language in the expression and control of human emotions? Do natural languages rely on universal categories? Or are linguistic categories rather culture-related?
Prof. Senft’s lectures will not only provide with rich insights into possible answers to all these questions, they will also address relevant methodological suggestions for the researcher in the Humanities. Above all, Prof. Senft’s research stresses the importance of being “on a common ground” with the researched communities: that is, to be able to understand the complexity of categories and linguistic strategies developed by native speakers. Only then will it be possible to reduce the impact of the linguistic and cultural presuppositions of the researcher.