Sapir-Whorf hypothesis


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Sapir-Whorf hypothesis

the thesis that linguistic categories structure perceptual and cognitive ones. Two US anthropologists, Edward Sapir (1884-1934) and his student Benjamin Lee Whorf (1897-1941) are credited with this theory of linguistic relativism. Essentially the position states that our language structures our perception of the world. Whorf demonstrates this with his work on Hopi Indians, who appeared to have different concepts of space, time and matter from 'Standard Average European’ language speakers. Another common example is the plurality of Inuit (Eskimo) words for 'snow’, supposedly illustrating that they are attuned to elements of their environment that a non-Inuit would be unable to recognize. The strong version of the hypothesis is now rarely accepted, but debate still continues as to where language ends and material culture and social structure begin. See also RELATIVISM, FORM OF LIFE.
References in periodicals archive ?
At the same time, he wonders, whether it would be plausible that cultures influence language rather than the other way around, as stated by the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.
4) Even in his most forceful statements, Sapir did not develop the metaphysics of language implicit in the contemporary interpretation of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.
The results of this investigation show that the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis neither holds absolutely, nor fails absolutely, but depends upon the nature of the referent.
Such a deterministic view of languages in isolation-reminiscent of Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, unmentioned here--makes language speak with its own voice in time and place.
Our discussion of his ideas will illuminate the difference between the controversial Sapir-Whorf hypothesis and its subtle antithesis, the Boas-Jakobson principle, allowing us to distill some sense of the potential for promoting peace by choosing to adopt appropriate language fragments.
While some of the chapters engage with the theory of linguistic relativity/the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, the goal is not to provide evidence "for" or "against" the theory, but rather to contribute to the scholarship on language and cognition by expanding the theory's range to speakers of multiple languages.
Just when ILIL is poised to establish a truly interesting context for its analyses, such as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis in Chapter 18, it reverts to cheek--as if, so to speak, to save face.
Then I guess I got caught up in the whole Sapir-Whorf hypothesis stuff--how language structures consciousness and how journalists--or directors--structure reality.
The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis has attracted much criticism, especially over the last 15 years, from researchers who regard the mind as a collection of evolved thinking devices that operate independently of language.
In the fields of linguistics and cognitive psychology, there is a much-debated theory known as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (Ash, 1999).
Indeed, some of the difficulty that some nowadays have with the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis seems to me to derive from the frequently sloppy claims which have been developed out of the pair's writings, and then from the conditions of transmission of Whorf's own ideas: he died relatively young, and it seems that only one article had been prepared for an audience of professionals--he himself was an insurance agent until the very end of his life.
THE SAPIR-WHORF HYPOTHESIS, developed in the 1930s by the linguists Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf, holds that the language we use will determine how we see the world.