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Imprisoned in EnglishThe Hazards of English as a Default Language$
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Anna Wierzbicka

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199321490

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199321490.001.0001

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Doing Things with Other People: “Cooperation,” “Interaction” and “Obščenie”

Doing Things with Other People: “Cooperation,” “Interaction” and “Obščenie”

(p.101) 9 Doing Things with Other People: “Cooperation,” “Interaction” and “Obščenie”
Imprisoned in English

Anna Wierzbicka

Oxford University Press

The word “cooperation” plays a key role in contemporary writings on human social life, human evolution, human uniqueness, and human communication. As this chapter shows, however, it is used in many different senses and these senses are never defined (in words that are simple and clear). Furthermore, since “cooperation” is an English word without exact equivalents in other languages, many theories that heavily rely on this word are locked in English, as well as being shaped by English. The chapter shows how the important issues linked in the literature with this vague, protean, and English-specific word can be clarified and sharpened by the use of the mini-English that is NSM English. The chapter concludes by invoking John Locke’s seminal ideas on the “abuse of language” and shows their relevance to the terminological Anglocentrism prevailing in many areas of contemporary social science.

Keywords:   “cooperation”, “collaboration”, “interaction”, “obshchenie”, “altruism”, Michael Tomasello on children and chimpanzees, Locke on abuse of words

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