The words and grammar of any language encode a vast array of complex prepackaged concepts, most of them language-specific and culture-related. These concepts are manipulated routinely in almost every waking hour of most people's lives. They are largely acquired in infancy and they are intersubjectively shared among members of the speech community. It is hard to imagine such elaborate and variable representation systems not having a substantial role to play in ordinary cognition, and yet the language-and-thought question continues to be a contested one across the various disciplines and sub-disciplines of cognitive science. This article provides an overview from the vantage point of linguistic semantics. WIREs Cogni Sci 2011 2 125–135 DOI: 10.1002/wcs.101

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