The Leopard's Spots
Gerrit J. Dimmendaal, University of Cologne
In The Leopard’s Spots, Gerrit J. Dimmendaal discusses the interaction between language, cognition, and culture in an African context with special focus on the cultural construction of meaning through language. Such constructions are constrained by our cognitive system, but leave lots of space for culture-specific interpretations and thereby for tremendous typological diversity between languages. This variation reflects the adaptive nature of human language in the same way that the spots of the leopard reflect selective advantages for its natural habitat. But whereas science has essentially one explanation for the rosettes of the leopard, the non-scientific mind may attach meaning to his or her cultural environment by way of language through a plethora of strategies.