LINGUISTIC RELATIVITY AND NEURONAL PLASTICITY
Languages in the World differ in many aspects. Do linguistic differences lead to differences in thinking? If the answer is in the affirmative, then which aspects of language cause differences in thinking, and how strong is their effect? The article discusses the relationship between language and thinking and the different conceptions of linguistic relativity. Linguistic relativity claims that linguistic differences cause differences in thinking. A unique conception of linguistic relativity is called processing relativity: certain types of languages use the universal processing mechanisms in a different way. Linguistic relativity can be interpreted in the context of neuroplasticity as well: can different (first-) language experiences affect the fixation of plastic brain areas? In this respect we touch upon recent neuroimaging and genetics results from the field of tonal languages. Taken together, we advocate the weak version of linguistic relativity, the universal processing mechanisms, and the linguistic governing of neuroplasticity.
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