Language as key to perceptual diversity: an interdisciplinary approach to the senses
This project will open up new horizons in the human sciences by providing scientific access to human diversity. It does so by situating field linguists at the center of an interdisciplinary research framework in which language expertise provides the crucial point of connection between researchers and lesser-known speech communities and knowledge systems. The project explores human perception, a field in which recent research hints at considerable but still poorly understood variation across human languages and cultures. To this end, the project brings together a unique and highly qualified team representing Linguistics, Cognitive Psychology, Geoscience and History of Religion to investigate language of perception in three diverse Language Observatories. Combining well-established methods with novel ones, the research focuses on two fundamental and interrelated arenas of perception: landscape and ritual. Acknowledging that language provides a window on both cognition and culture, the project bridges the gap between psychological and cultural approaches to the senses. The results will speak to a wide audience of perception specialists in different fields, as well as the general public. The program promises to establish the language sciences and humanities at large as key players in interdisciplinary initiatives involving diverse branches of science.