The Language of the Blind: A Window to Human Cognition


  • Renata Geld University of Zagreb


Linguistic meaning construal in the blind is a largely unexplored area. This talk discusses aspects of their language and provides a cognitive linguistic account of the relationship between language, cognition, and experience. The blind experience certain restrictions in their interaction with space because they lack visual input. However, these same restrictions foster extraordinary experiences of the world that are subtly coded in the language they produce. More specifically, the language of the blind tends to code salience (attention) and situatedness (perspective) differently than is the case with the sighted. The differences are discussed from a cognitive linguistics (cogling) and cognitive science (cogsci) assumption that human knowledge is perceptual in character and that this is reflected in the use of construal operations in language. In line with this, the central question is to what extent the conceptual content in the language of the blind is different from the conceptual content in the language produced by the sighted.