Language as key to perceptual diversity: an interdisciplinary approach to the senses

Project: ResearchInterdisciplinary research, International collaboration


This project will open up new horizons in the human sciences by providing scientific access to human diversity. It does so by situating field linguists at the center of an interdisciplinary research framework in which language expertise provides the crucial point of connection between researchers and lesser-known speech communities and knowledge systems. The project explores human perception, a field in which recent research hints at considerable but still poorly understood variation across human languages and cultures. To this end, the project brings together a unique and highly qualified team representing Linguistics, Cognitive Psychology, Geoscience and History of Religion to investigate language of perception in three diverse Language Observatories. Combining well-established methods with novel ones, the research focuses on two fundamental and interrelated arenas of perception: landscape and ritual. Acknowledging that language provides a window on both cognition and culture, the project bridges the gap between psychological and cultural approaches to the senses. The results will speak to a wide audience of perception specialists in different fields, as well as the general public. The program promises to establish the language sciences and humanities at large as key players in interdisciplinary initiatives involving diverse branches of science.
Short titleLanguage as key to perceptual diversity
Effective start/end date2016/03/012021/02/28

Collaborative partners

  • Lund University (lead)
  • Radboud University Nijmegen
  • University of Southern Denmark
  • University of Zurich
  • University of Newcastle upon Tyne


  • Niclas Burenhult - Humanities Lab - General Linguistics (PI)
  • Majid, Asifa - Radboud University Nijmegen (CoI)
  • van Putten, Saskia - Radboud University Nijmegen (Researcher)
  • Purves, Ross - University of Zurich (CoI)
  • Rothstein, Mikael - University of Southern Denmark (CoI)
  • Sercombe, Peter - University of Newcastle upon Tyne (CoI)

Related research output

Larsson, J., Niclas Burenhult, Nicole Kruspe, Purves, R., Rothstein, M. & Sercombe, P., 2020 May 15, In : International Journal of Social Research Methodology.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

O'Meara, C. (Guest ed.), Niclas Burenhult (Guest ed.), Rothstein, M. (Guest ed.) & Sercombe, P. (Guest ed.), 2020 May, In : Hunter Gatherer Research. 4, 3, p. 287-426

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial Issue (editor)

O'Meara, C., Niclas Burenhult, Rothstein, M. & Sercombe, P., 2020 May, In : Hunter Gatherer Research. 4, 3, p. 287-309

Research output: Contribution to journalDebate/Note/Editorial

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Related activities

Burenhult, N. (Host)
2020 Mar 12021 Feb 28

Activity: Hosting a visitor

Burenhult, N. (Organiser)
2019 Jun 32019 Jun 6

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventOrganisation of workshop/ seminar/ course

Jens Larsson (Presenter), Burenhult, N. (Presenter), Kruspe, N. (Contributor)
2019 Mar 1

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

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