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The effect of naming systems on the acquisition of and reasoning about time concepts

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Item Summary

Title: The effect of naming systems on the acquisition of and reasoning about time concepts
Authors: Liu, Nian
Keywords: time concepts
Issue Date: Aug 2012
Publisher: [Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2012]
Abstract: Languages encode time-related concepts, like days of the week (DOW) and months of the year (MOY), in different ways. Some use numerical labels (e.g., in Chinese, Monday is "weekday one"; January is "month one") while others use arbitrary names (e.g., English). This project investigates whether languages that use numerical terms provide an advantage to their speakers, both as children acquiring the temporal terms of the language and as adults reasoning about time, when compared to speakers of languages that use arbitrary symbols to encode time-related terms.
The project first tests whether a numerical naming system facilitates children's acquisition of time sequences, comparing the behavior of monolingual children who speak Chinese (numerical day-and month-systems), English (non-numerical systems), Latvian (a mix of systems), and Korean (a mix of systems). The results show that (1) Chinese monolingual children comprehend and use time words earlier overall than English monolingual children; (2) in Latvian, which has numerical DOW names but arbitrary MOY names, children acquire day-names earlier than month-names; (3) in Korean, which has numerical MOY names and arbitrary DOW names, children acquire month-names earlier than day-names.
Second, two behavioral experiments test whether Chinese-and English-speaking adults' time calculation abilities are influenced by their languages' naming systems. The results are consistent with the view that Chinese and English speakers are using different strategies in online processing of calendrical questions.
This dissertation research offers a new piece of evidence for the pervasive influence of language on thought, in the specific domain of cognition of time, by showing that the way calendars are coded can have a substantial effect on the employment of strategies in non-linguistic problem-solving processes.
Description: Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2012.
Includes bibliographical references.
URI/DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/100987
Appears in Collections:Ph.D. - Linguistics



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