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The Expression and Perception of Space in Wayana
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Until recently it was assumed that all cultures perceive and express space from the ego. However, this belief in a universal phenomenological bias is currently being challenged by many linguists from several disciplines, who believe that space can also be perceived intrinsically or absolutely. This ethno-linguistic analysis of the Cariban language, Wayana (still spoken in the dense rainforests of Suriname, French Guiana and Brazil), not only strengthens these claims but, more importantly, gives a detailed account of how spatiality is expressed in Wayana. Particular attention is given to their rich postpositional system surrounding topological relations, to their demonstrative pronouns and to their locative adverbs. Additionally, following the idea that language and culture are intrinsically interwoven, this linguistic analysis gives us a glimpse into the worldview of the Wayana, enabling us to achieve a greater understanding of how the Wayana perceive and categorize space and the landscape in which they live.
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