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Cross-linguistic reflections of cognitive distinctions

Grant number: 11/51408-4
Support type:Regular Research Grants
Duration: March 01, 2012 - February 28, 2014
Field of knowledge:Linguistics, Literature and Arts - Linguistics - Linguistic Theory and Analysis
Cooperation agreement: Hebrew University of Jerusalem - HUJ
Principal researcher:Ana Lucia de Paula Muller
Grantee:Ana Lucia de Paula Muller
Principal researcher abroad: Edit Doron
Institution abroad: Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
Home Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


The present project will seek to study a number of particular cross linguistic phenomena in languages as varied as those found in Brazil and in Israel, with the aim of delineating specific areas where linguistic characteristics reflect human cognition and general semantic considerations rather than being arbitrary. The project will span several phenomena which we hypothesize are relevant to this issue, such as the distinction between mass and count nouns, the nominal expression of genericity, the verbal expression of habituality, and others. For instance, we will seek additional evidence for the cognitive rather than formal basis of phenomena such as the mass-count distinction within the nominal and verbal domains by studying the relevant properties of the languages spoken in Brazil and in Israel. One language is Karitiana (a Tupi-Arikém language spoken in Rondônia, Brazil), where the mass-count distinction is not encoded morphologically within the nominal domain (Doron and Muller 2011). Another language is Hebrew, which does have number morphology), yet number morphology does not provide a reliable distinction between mass nouns and count nouns. (AU)

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