Content and Context in the Study of Meaning Variation


Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowships for Recently Tenured Scholars




For residence at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences during academic year 2013-2014


Human languages differ in their morphological inventories and syntactic structures, but nevertheless convey comparable meanings. This project explores the nature of linguistic variation through comparative analyses of nominal and temporal meanings in German and Paraguayan Guarani, a language indigenous to that country. The hypothesis is that comparable meanings can arise in different ways across languages due to variation in how conventionally coded content and context contribute to nominal and temporal interpretation. The project continues the documentation of Guarani and the development of methods for exploring meaning in research with linguistically untrained native speakers.