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  1. The career of measurementCooperrider, Kensy - Cognition, 2019 - 0 Hypotheses

    In this study researchers were interested in the evolution of units of measurement from the concrete, tangible phenomena from which they originated to their current abstractness. The study looked at 48 English linear measures with known origins from the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), along with ethnographies from 30 different cultures in HRAF, from which 352 different length units emerged. The ‘career of measurement’ was broken down into four different stages – ad hoc comparison, conventionalization, standardization, and systematization. These four stages were directly linked to changes in how the units themselves were used and understood both in language as well as everyday life. In both the OED as well as HRAF, units of measurement often stemmed from the human body, exemplifying the important role the body plays in abstract thinking. Although this study in particular focused on units of length, the researchers believe that the same trends will extend to other units of measurement including weight, volume, and area.

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