Papers from the first International Conference on Universals in Language, uniting perspectives from linguistics, cultural anthropology, and psychology.
In 1961, the first International Conference on Universals in Language convened to consider the possibility of creating "something of the order of cross-cultural files for a large sample of languages."In the preliminary memorandum of this historic meeting, it was proposed that "midst infinite diversity, all languages are, as it were, cut from the same pattern." Eight of the papers presented in this volume investigate, discuss, and analyze specific proposals regarding language universals; three final papers offer summaries from the viewpoints of linguistics, cultural anthropology, and psychology; an appendix provides 45 actual language universals based on a study of 30 languages including Japanese, Hebrew, Basque, Swahili, and Maya.This book is an all-important result of a conference at which, as psychologist Charles Osgood stated, "we have been witness to a bloodless revolution. Quietly and without polemics we have seen linguistics taking a giant step from being merely a method for describing language to being a fullfledged science of language."Roman Jakobson, noted linquist, wrote: "it may well turn out that what is universal in language functions much more powerfully, and in a more fundamental way, to shape men's thoughts than what is different..."