Sapir-Wharf Hypotheisis

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Yeah, you probably noted me ranting on about how some folks seem sharper than others, and one of the major items I noted was their linguistic abilities--how many languages they had acquired.  This is the opposite of the 'bi-lingual' which has mostly meant inappropriate understanding of both sets of words.

The hypothesis postulates that a particular language's nature influences the habitual thought of its speakers: That is, different language patterns yield different patterns of thought. For example, concepts or ideas that are prevalent in the culture may be stated in concise ways (using one or a few words), whereas concepts or ideas that are foreign to the culture are more difficult to express (requiring many words.) Similarly, separate words may exist to express distinctions considered important in that culture, or distinctions concerning matters the culture considers important, whereas the same word may serve to refer to what is in a different culture considered several different concepts. This idea challenges the possibility of perfectly representing the world with language, because it implies that the mechanisms of any language condition the thoughts of its speaker community. The heading "Sapir-Whorf hypothesis" is used to refer to two principles. One is known as linguistic determinism, while the second followed from this and is known as linguistic relativity. These are all in strong and weak formulations.

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This page contains a single entry by writch published on May 1, 2009 1:10 PM.

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