A sweeping critique of the assumptions the mind makes, of how humans tend to categorize objects and ideas, and of the implications of these modes of thought. Lakoff reviews a wide range of studies in cognitive semantics, a new field that attempts to understand mind through empirical studies of the way people categorize. He provides several detailed conceptual case studies, which aptly bring out the richness of the English language, and Whorfian-type examinations of the way different cultures view the world as exemplified in their language. The book's title derives from a classification in Dyirbal, an aboriginal language of Australia.
“Its publication should be a major event for cognitive linguistics and should pose a major challenge for cognitive science. In addition, it should have repercussions in a variety of disciplines, ranging from anthropology and psychology to epistemology and the philosophy of science. … Lakoff asks: What do categories of language and thought reveal about the human mind? Offering both general theory and minute details, Lakoff shows that categories reveal a great deal.”—David E. Leary, American Scientist
George Lakoff is Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley, where he has taught since 1972. He previously taught at Harvard and the University of Michigan. He graduated from MIT in 1962 (in Mathematics and Literature) and received his PhD in Linguistics from Indiana University in 1966. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Don't Think of an Elephant!, as well as Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think, Whose Freedom?, and many other books and articles on cognitive science and linguistics, and is America’s leading expert on the framing of political ideas.