William Benton Professor Emeritus


Fields: Linguistic anthropology, psychological anthropology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, social theory, Mayan language and culture.

Topics: Exploring the development and interactions among the symbolic structures we call language, culture, and self. Particular focus on the impact of grammatical diversity on thought, the development of language and thought in middle childhood, and the role of metalinguistic capabilities in human social interaction. Directing University efforts to archive and disseminate language indigenous language materials from Latin America.

Education: Ph.D. University of Chicago (Human Development).

Positions: Assistant/Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania (Anthropology) 1994-96. William Benton Professor, University of Chicago (Human Development) 1996-present.

Fellowships: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, Netherlands 1992, 1996, 2002; John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation 2006; Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, CA 2008.

Contact Information


Language, Culture, and Thought. Theories of Self. Maya History and Ethnography.

Representative Publications:

1992: Language Diversity and Thought: A Reformulation of the Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

1992: Grammatical Categories and Cognition: A Case Study of the Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

1993: Reflexive Language: Reported Speech and Metapragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Editor.)

2001: Grammatical categories and the development of classification preferences: A comparative approach. (With Suzanne Gaskins.) In S. Levinson and M. Bowerman (eds.), Language Acquisition and Conceptual Development. Cambridge University Press, pp. 257-283.

2003: Interaction of language type and referent type in the development of nonverbal classification preferences. (With Suzanne Gaskins.) In D. Gentner and S. Goldin-Meadow (eds.), Language in Mind: Advances in the Study of Language and Thought. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 465-492.

2004: Language, culture, and mind in comparative perspective. In M. Achard and S. Kemmer (ed.), Language, Culture, and Mind. Stanford, CA: Center for the Study of Language and Information Publications [distributed by the University of Chicago Press], pp. 1-21.

In press: Language structure, lexical meaning, and cognition: Whorf and Vygotsky revisited. In Philip Wolff and Barbara Malt (eds.), Words and the World: How Words Capture Human Experience. Oxford: Oxford University Press.