Word-concept mappings

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Chapter 7 endnote 33, from How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett.
Some context is:

Different languages describe diverse human experience in different ways ​— ​emotions and other mental events, colors, body parts, direction, time, spatial relations, and causality. [...] Mapping words to concepts is neither simple nor universal.

Psychologists Barbara Malt and Phillip Wolff, who specialize in the relationship between the mind and language, put it like this: “Given the extent of documented diversity, it seems safe to project that there may be few or no domains of human experience in which the vocabulary words covering the domain map cleanly onto one another across languages…,” and furthermore, “any general characterization of the human cognitive architecture that assumes a straightforward and universal mapping from conceptual representations to word meanings (albeit realized via different word forms) must be wrong.”[1]


Notes on the Notes

  1. Malt, Barbara, and Phillip Wolff. 2010. "The language-thought interface: an introduction."In Words and the Mind: How Words Capture Human Experience, edited by Barbara Malt and Phillip Wolff, 3-15. New York: Oxford University Press, p. 7.