William Benton Professor

Office phone: (773) 702-3517
Fax: (773) 702-0302
Office: Rosenwald Hall 318G


1972 B.A. Mathematics (Psychology Minor), Pomona College, Claremont, CA, USA.

1987 Ph.D. Committee on Human Development, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.

1987-1989, Social Sciences Collegiate Division, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.

1989-1996, Department of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.

1996-present, Committee on Human Development and Department of Psychology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

Research Interests

Using cross-cultural and developmental perspectives to explore the interface among the symbolic structures we call language, culture, and self; the impact of grammatical diversity on thought and the particular importance of metalinguistic capabilities in human social interaction; the role of language in the development of conceptual thought and self during middle childhood; languages and cultures of the Mayan peoples

Recent 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.

1996 The scope of linguistic relativity: An analysis and review of empirical research. J.J. Gumperz and S.C. Levinson (eds.), Rethinking Linguistic Relativity.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 37-69.

1997 Linguistic relativity. Annual Review of Anthropology 26: 291-312. Palo Alto, CA: Annual Reviews Inc.

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.


  • Language, Culture, and Thought
  • Theories of Self
  • Language Socialization
  • Spoken Yucatec Maya

Course descriptions and syllabus materials