Posted: Dec 22, 2022 11:19 pm
by don't get me started
1. Cognitive Discourse Analysis: An introduction - Thora Tenbrink
2. Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything About Race, Gender And Identity- And Why This Harms Everybody – Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay
3. A History of the World in 12 Maps – Jerry Brotton
4. Origins of the Specious: Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language – Patricia T. O’Connor & Stewart Kellerman
5. Peer Interaction and Second Language Learning - Jenefer Philip, Rebecca Adams & Noriko Iwashita
6. Eugene Onegin - Alexander Pushkin
7. Found in Translation: How Language Shapes Our Lives and Transforms the World - Nataly Kelly & Jost Zetzche
8. English Words: A Linguistic Introduction - Heidi Harley
9. Questions: Formal, Functional and Interactional Perspectives Jan P. de Ruiter (Ed.)
10. Persepolis Rising - James S.A. Corey
11. English Prepositions: Their meanings and uses - R.M.W. Dixon
12. Draußen vor der Tür - Wolfgang Borchert
13. Metonymy: Hidden Shortcuts in Language, Thought and Communication - Jeannette Liitlemore
14. Tiamat's Wrath - James S.A. Corey
15. Leviathan Falls - James S.A. Corey
16. The Horse, the Wheel and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World - David W. Anthony
17. The Unfortunate Traveler and Other Works - Thomas Nashe
18. A Qualitative Approach to the Validation of Oral Language Tests (Studies in Language Testing, Series Number 14) - Anne Lazarton
19. Are Some Languages Better than Others? - R.M.W. Dixon.
20. The Expedition of Humphry Clinker - Tobias Smollet
21. Body Part Terms in Conceptualization and Language Usage - Iwona Kraska-Szlenk (Ed.)
22.Think Least of Death: Spinoza on How to Live and How to Die - Steven Nadler
23. Vuelta Skelter: Riding the Remarkable 1941 Tour of Spain - Tim Moore
24. Cognitive Linguistics: An Introduction - David Lee
25. Space in Language and Cognition: Explorations in Cognitive Diversity - Stephen C. Levinson
26. An Immigrant's Love Letter to the West - Konstantin Kisin
27. Explorations of Language Transfer - Terrence Odlin
28: A war on Two Fronts: Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan and Terrence Malik's The Thin Red Line- Tibe Patrick Jordan
29. Grammars of Space: Explorations in Cognitive Diversity - Stephen C. Levinson and David Wilkins (Eds.) (Partial re-read)
30. Rethinking linguistic relativity - John J. Gumperz & Stephen C. Levinson (Eds.) Partial re-read.
31. A History of the World in 6 Glasses - Tom Standage
32. Cross-linguistic Study of the Principle of Linguistic Relativity: Cross-linguistic Research to Examine the Principle of Linguistic Relativity: Evidence from English, Mandarin and Russian - Ronan Grace
33. An Introduction to Linguistic Typology - Viveka Vellupillai
34. Mysteries of English Grammar: A guide to the complexities of the English Language - Andreea S. Calude & Laurie Bauer
35. Against a Dark Background - Iain M. Banks (Reread)
36. The Linguistics Delusion - Geoffrey Sampson
37. Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition - Peter Robinson & Nick C. Ellis
38. Where have all the adjectives gone? - R.M.W Dixon
39. Copulas: Universals in the Categorization of the Lexicon - Regina Pustet
40. Scoff: A History of Food and Class in Britain - Pen Vogler
41. Genesis: The Deep Origin of Societies - Edward O. Wilson
42. Conceptualizations of time - Barbara Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk (Ed.)
42. Aftermath: Life in the Fallout of the Third Reich - Harald Jähner
43. Second Language Speech Fluency: From Research to Practice - Parvaneh Tavakoli & Clare Wright
44. Studies in the Organization of Conversational Interaction - Jim Schenkein (Ed).
45. The Writing Revolution: Cuneiform to the Internet - Amalia E. Gnanadesikan
46. Flashman on the March - George MacDonald Fraser (reread)
47. The Cambridge Handbook of Linguistic Typology Alexandra Y Aikhenvald & R.M.W. Dixon (Eds.)

48. Numbers and the Making of Us: Counting and the Course of Human Cultures - Caleb Everett (reread)

Everett begins his account of number sense in humans with the observation that whilst every human culture ever recorded has a fully functioning spoken language system, not every culture has a full number system. Many languages around the world, especially in places like Amazonia and Australia have (in the terms of our society) a quite restricted set of numbers. Something like 'one, two, three, a few, a whole bunch of.' (The Piraha language is famously described as being anumeric.)

There is a visual enumeration system that humans possess that allows us to understand 'at a glance' quantities up to about three or four. Beyond this, our ability to discern numbers of items gets approximate. Sure, we can visually differentiate between seven items and twenty, but not between seven and eight. Everett argues that the precise (up to about three) and approximate (anything above about three) visual number sense is a hardwired human trait that affects conception and is only conceptually surmountable by repeated and focused instruction during early years. Numbers (the actual concepts, in addition to the marks we make on paper to represent these concepts) are therefore a purely cultural invention that only got going after many false starts and gradually emergent sense of the possibilities.

In addition to our visual/psychological architecture regarding numbers, there is also the aspect of cognition based on embodiment. Our fingers (and often toes) provide a source domain for counting, and the preponderance of quinary, decimal and vigesimal counting systems in languages of the world demonstrates the close links between the physical configurations of our bodies and our system of numbers.

Whilst reading I had cause to reflect on my own numeracy. I am really poor at all kinds of mental arithmetic and I was wondering what might underlie this. I was helping my son do his maths homework and I realized that many of the calculations as written down are based on placement and alignment of columns and rows. My mental/visual sense does not allow this. That is, a number (say, a 'carried' 7) does not stay "in place" anywhere while I attend to another part of the calculation. It is no longer accessible to me once I start doing something else. In effect, my short term memory for numbers during a mental mathematical operation is more or less zero. Not great when you have to perform multiple back to back steps to reach an answer.

I also realized that I have a tendency to 'visualise' numbers in a kind of tally the numbers of dots in arrangement on a domino or die. This is a cultural way to get beyond the visual enumeration limitation mentioned by Everett. Five dots arranged with one in each corner of a notional square and one in the middle is 'at a glance' enumerable. Five such arrangements would give 25, as long as they were arranged correctly - imagine five dice showing five arranged in the four corner, one in the middle pattern. Hey presto! I can enumerate 25 at a glance. There's no way I could enumerate 25 randomly spread dots at a glance. But of course, this only applies to certain values. I'm not sure what the 'at a glance' configuration of 17 would be.

Such thoughts really pushed home to me Everett's central point of just how strange and, at least in some sense, unnatural numbers are for humans.