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A recent study found that many languages globally have terms for “this” and “that”.
A team of researchers examined the language usage of over 1,000 individuals who spoke 29 different languages in order to understand how they utilize demonstrative words, which indicate the location of something in relation to the speaker, such as “this cat” or “that dog”.
The University of East Anglia (UEA) conducted a recent study which revealed that all languages examined use spatial differentiations based on an object’s accessibility.
Previously, it was believed that different languages differed in their use of spatial distinctions, leading to the idea that people may have fundamentally different ways of thinking.
Professor Kenny Coventry, a lead researcher from UEA’s School of Psychology, stated that there are more than 7,000 distinct languages spoken globally.
We were interested in understanding how people who speak various languages utilize the most ancient words in all of language, specifically words that indicate space, such as ‘this’ or ‘that’.
The scientists examined 29 different languages from various countries, including English, Spanish, Norwegian, Japanese, Mandarin, Tzeltal, and Telugu.
Over 1,000 individuals were examined to determine the usage of demonstratives in their language for describing object locations.
According to Professor Coventry, our research revealed that every language we examined has a term for items that are accessible to the speaker, such as “this” in English, and a term for items that are not within reach – “that”.
He stated, “This difference could clarify the initial evolutionary emergence of demonstratives as language forms.”
A group of researchers from UEA and 32 other institutions, including Friedrich-Schiller-Universitat Jena, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Aarhus University, and the University of Buffalo, published a study in Nature Human Behaviour.
The source is the independent.co.uk.