Linguistic Relativity Thesis

Linguistic Relativity Thesis-46
(1978) Words in context: A Japanese perspective on language and culture.

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The English children classified the scenes as either belonging to an ‘on’ group (e.g....

(1992) Language, Diversity and Thought: A reformulation of the Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis.

According to the strong version, the language we speak determines/constraints the way we think and view the real world.

According to the weak version, the language does influence to some extent the way we think and view the real world, however, does not fully determine or constraint it.

The ability of people to learn and to speak multiple languages casts doubt on the strong version of the theory, since a person may learn many different languages, but this does not change the way he/she thinks.

Therefore, the strong version of Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is refuted by the greater majority of linguists and anthropologists. Berlin & Kay, 1969) who argue that all languages share the same structure (hence, all people view the world identically, according to formalists), the weak Sapir-Whorf hypothesis still continues to interest scholars across many fields and disciplines including linguistics, anthropology, sociology, and psychology.Following are quotes from the two linguists who first formulated the hypothesis and for whom it is named, Edward Sapir and Benjamin Whorf : "Human beings do not live in the objective world alone, nor alone in the world of social activity as ordinarily understood, but are very much at the mercy of the particular language which has become the medium of expression for their society.It is quite an illusion to imagine that one adjusts to reality essentially without the use of language and that language is merely an incidental means of solving specific problems of communication or reflection.The categories and types that we isolate from the world of phenomena we do not find there because they stare every observer in the face; on the contrary, the world is presented in a kaleidoscopic flux of impressions which has to be organized by our minds - and this means largely by the linguistic systems in our minds.We cut nature up, organize it into concepts, and ascribe significances as we do, largely because we are parties to an agreement to organize it in this way - an agreement that holds throughout our speech community and is codified in the patterns of our language.(Behaviorism taught that behavior is a result of external conditioning and doesn't take feelings, emotions, and thoughts into account as affecting behavior.Cognitive psychology studies mental processes such as creative thinking, problem-solving, and attention.) "The question of whether languages shape the way we think goes back centuries; Charlemagne proclaimed that 'to have a second language is to have a second soul.' But the idea went out of favor with scientists when Noam Chomsky's theories of language gained popularity in the 1960s and '70s. Chomsky proposed that there is a universal grammar for all human languages—essentially, that languages don't really differ from one another in significant ways...." ("Lost in Translation." "The Wall Street Journal," July 30, 2010) The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis was taught in courses through the early 1970s and had become widely accepted as truth, but then it fell out of favor.Whorf believed that cross-linguistically there is “divergence in the analysis of the world”, and that “languages dissect nature in many different ways” (194), allocating objects and actions to sets of categories which may be different to other varieties. Spatial Language Facilitates Spatial Cognition: Evidence from Children Who Lack Language Input. Setting out to test this claim, Choi and Bowerman (1991) asked both Korean and English-speaking children to separate a set of actions, including “joining two Lego pieces”, and “putting toys in container” (19), into two groups. Just because English doesn't have a single word for the idea doesn't mean that Americans can't understand the concept.There's also the "chicken and egg" problem with the theory.


Comments Linguistic Relativity Thesis


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