The language in language and thinking

  • Vivian Cook Newcastle University
Keywords: Language and thinking, linguistic relativity, SLA research, Linguistic Commitment, thinking for language


The relationship of language and thinking is starting to receive considerable attention in the field of SLA research under the name of Bilingual Cognition. This paper argues that it needs to be underpinned by a proper foundation in the language side of the relationship: it is dangerous to take language for granted. First it argues for researchers to clearly spell out what they mean by language, whether as the general property of human beings, in an abstract sense, as an external reality, as mental knowledge, as social community or as action, each of which has different implications for the relationship of language and cognition. Then it argues for the Language Commitment to an adequate theory and description of language as a basis for research, claiming that current emphasis is too much on isolate semantic categories rather than syntactic categories and on word-referent mapping rather than the full complexity of lexical meaning.


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