Introduction to language and social cognition

Course Status: 
CEU credits: 
ECTS credits: 
Academic year: 
Start and end dates: 
16 Sep 2013 - 16 Dec 2013
CEU Instructor(s): 
Anne Tamm
Additional information: 
Venue: Frankel Leo 30-34. Room 206. Time: Mondays from 13:30 till 15:10. Office hours: on Mondays between 15:10-16:00 in Frankel, Room 114., on Thursdays between 13:00 and 14:00 at CDC, Hattyu street 14, room 416.
Full description: 

Humans are special in having a communication system that employs complex language(s) and advanced social cognition. This course offers an introduction to current research on how these advanced human capacities interact. Language is discussed as a cognitive ability as well as a central feature of human social interaction. During the meetings we discuss how the prominent models and theories of language explain linguistic phenomena that relate to social cognition. What is universal, what is language or culture specific? How are our linguistic concepts and categories connected to social cognitive categories and capacities? How do these two powerful cognitive abilities feed into each other? We will discuss linguistic phenomena from known and exotic languages that, via their special link to social cognition, inform us about how the social mind works. The linguistic topics include evidentiality, generics, duals, possessives, causation, number-measure-mass-count phenomena, negation, case, transitivity, and verbs. The social cognitive topics that are related to them include ostensive communication, reputation maintaining, gossip, epistemic vigilance, Theory of Mind, joint action, norms and values, perspective taking, empathy and the perception of self. The course will also introduce methods, resources and tools (surveys, experiments, databases, corpora) that help us clarify the relationships between social cognitive and linguistic phenomena.