Biases we live by: Anglocentrism in Linguistics and Cognitive Sciences

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This paper explores “Anglocentrism” as a bias in contemporary linguistics and cognitive sciences. Anglo concepts dominate international discourse on language and cognition, but the influence that this Anglocentric metalinguistic discourse has on global knowledge production, research methods, and the theoretical framing of research questions is rarely debated. Three case studies on heavily “Anglicised” discursive domains are provided: (i) “the mind” – and the Anglicisation of global discourse of human personhood; (ii) “happiness” – and the Anglicisation of the global discourse of human values; (iii) “community” – and the Anglicisation of the global discourse of human sociality. With cross-linguistic evidence from Europe (Danish), and the Pacific (Bislama), the paper denaturalises the English words mind, happiness, and community and the cognitive models they stand for, demonstrating that these words are not “neutral” nor “innocent” metalinguistic descriptors. Rather, they are quintessential Anglo constructs, and as such they provide a lens on humanity that is biased towards an Anglo interpretation of the world. Finally, the paper explores the “bias” concept. Paradoxically, the bias concept is in itself a product of the Anglosphere, as as such a part of the problem. However, due to this word’s meta-discursive function, the paper argues that the bias concept can become a useful Trojan Horse, a concept through which we can fight Anglocentrism from within, and pave the way for a more adequate representation of human diversity in linguistics and cognitive sciences.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101173
JournalLanguage Sciences
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sep 2019
EventBiases in linguistics - Roskilde Universitet, Roskilde, Denmark
Duration: 10 Nov 201610 Nov 2016


SymposiumBiases in linguistics
LocationRoskilde Universitet


  • Anglocentrism
  • Anglocentricity
  • Anglo English
  • English as a Global Metalanguage
  • English as a language of knowledge

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