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    Re: language and spatio-temporal orientation
    From: Patrick Goold
    Date: 2010 Aug 31, 10:15 -0400
    I have a PDF file of the Cecil Brown article, "Where do cardinal direction terms come from?".  Wasn't it you who cited this article in a previous post?  It is more anthropology.  I am not sure it digs as deep as you want.  It does reveal somewhat surprising cultural differences in cardinal direction systems.

    Patrick

    On Tue, Aug 31, 2010 at 9:34 AM, Apache Runner <apacherunner@gmail.com> wrote:
    Thanks , Frank.

    There's a recapitulation of the idea that in an aboriginal Australian language, they only use the cardinal points to describe locations.   But, I'm still perplexed - where does the language get the names of the cardinal points from in the first place?   It's not like we're born knowing the direction north - or likewise - at some point you have to be taught a language, so you have to be told where north is.   How does that arise?    I guess this is just a complaint about the reporting of the anthropology - they like to come up with a bedazzling point, but then don't dig into it further.



    On Mon, Aug 30, 2010 at 10:21 PM, Frank Reed <FrankReed@historicalatlas.com> wrote:

    Back in July, the issue of orientation and culture came up. Here's a nice article on the topic from yesterday's NY Times:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/29/magazine/29language-t.html

    A brief extract:
    "The area where the most striking evidence for the influence of language on thought has come to light is the language of space � how we describe the orientation of the world around us. Suppose you want to give someone directions for getting to your house. You might say: �After the traffic lights, take the first left, then the second right, and then you�ll see a white house in front of you. Our door is on the right.� But in theory, you could also say: �After the traffic lights, drive north, and then on the second crossing drive east, and you�ll see a white house directly to the east. Ours is the southern door.� These two sets of directions may describe the same route, but they rely on different systems of coordinates. The first uses egocentric coordinates, which depend on our own bodies: a left-right axis and a front-back axis orthogonal to it. The second system uses fixed geographic directions, which do not rotate with us wherever we turn."

    -FER

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    --
    Dr. Patrick Goold
    Department of Philosophy
    Virginia Wesleyan College
    Norfolk, VA 23502
    757 455 3357
       
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