Stockholms universitet logo, länk till startsida

Högre seminarium i lingvistik: The Linguistics of Knowledge Ascription

torsdag 18 mars 2021 15.00 – 17.00


Anna Sjöberg talar under rubriken 'The Linguistics of Knowledge Ascription.'

Anna Sjöberg är doktorand i lingvistik med inriktning mot typologi och språklig mångfald. Detta är hennes halvtidsseminarium.



Seminariet äger rum i Zoom. En länk till mötet skickas ut via institutionens seminarielista eller fås direkt av Richard Kowalik:



It has been argued that all languages have a lexical expression for the concept know (Goddard & Wierzbicka 2013). However, there is variation in what is included in lexical expressions of knowledge. In English, we know that something is the case, know a person and know how to do something. In Swedish, on the other hand, we find a lexeme (känna) for knowing a person and in Russian for knowing how to do something (umet’), in both languages distinct from the lexeme for knowing that something is the case (Swedish veta and Russian znat’).

In my thesis project, I investigate ways of carving up the semantic space of knowing cross-linguistically. Using literature ranging from philosophy to psychology to linguistics, I identify potential dimensions of variation within the domain of knowledge. A sample of New Testament verses representing variation along these dimensions is investigated for approximately 80 languages in a world-wide variety sample. What distinctions in the domain are commonly encoded in languages? Are there limits to the ways in which languages carve up “knowledge”? And what does the varying linguistic encodings of the domain tell us about human minds and cultures?

In this talk, which is the half time seminar for my thesis project, I present some preliminary results, focusing on three dimensions of variation: not knowing, personal knowledge and intersubjectivity, describing how these dimensions are encoded in the languages investigated so far.


Goddard, C., & Wierzbicka, A. 2013. Words and Meanings: Lexical Semantics Across Domains, Languages, and Cultures. Oxford University Press.