The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (a.k.a. the Whorfian hypothesis) concerns the relationship Neither the anthropological linguist Edward Sapir (b. Sorry, this document isn’t available for viewing at this time. In the meantime, you can download the document by clicking the ‘Download’ button above. Title: Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf Hypothesis, Author: Francois http ://

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This example was later criticized by Lenneberg [34] as not actually demonstrating causality between the use of the word empty and the action of smoking, but instead was an example of circular reasoning. We do not realize what tremendous power the structure of an habitual language has. Levinson documented significant linguistic relativity effects in the linguistic conceptualization of spatial categories between languages.

Also known as the Sapir—Whorf hypothesisor Whorfianismthe principle is often defined to include two versions: The Chomskyan school also holds the belief that linguistic structures are largely innate and that what are perceived as differences between specific languages are surface phenomena that do not affect the brain’s universal cognitive processes. Swedish speakers describe time using distance terms like “long” or “short” while Spanish speakers do it using volume related terms like “big” or “small”.

For example, they found that even though languages have different color terminologies, they generally recognize certain hues as more focal than others. The aliens’ biology contributes to their spoken and written languages, which are distinct.

Retrieved from ” https: Davies”Further evidence that Whorfian effects are stronger in the right visual field than the left”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America3: Cambridge University Press, pp. InWilhelm von Humboldt connected the study of language to the national romanticist program by proposing the view that language is the fabric of thought.

Writing Culture Youth Culture. The diversity of human language-structure and its influence on the mental development of mankind.

Linguistic relativity

Linguistic relativity and the color naming debate. From the late s, a new school of linguistic relativity scholars has examined the effects of differences in linguistic categorization on cognition, finding broad support for non-deterministic versions of the hypothesis in experimental contexts. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. He concluded that cognitive differences between the grammatical usage of Swedish prepositions and Finnish cases could have caused Swedish factories to pay more attention to the work process while Finnish factory organizers paid more attention to the individual worker.


Sign up for My OBO. He further noticed that while no employees smoked cigarettes in the room for full barrels, no-one minded smoking in the room with empty barrels, although this was potentially much more dangerous because of the sapir-whorff flammable vapors still in the barrels.

An Interdisciplinary Essay in Chomskyan Humanism, p. Constructing Categories as Vantages.

A common language cannot indefinitely set the seal on a common culture when the geographical, physical, and economics determinants of the culture are no longer the same throughout the area.

Sapir offered similar observations about speakers of so-called “world” or “modern” languageshipofesis, “possession of a common language is still and will continue to be a smoother of the way to a mutual understanding between England and America, but it is very clear that other factors, some of them rapidly cumulative, are working powerfully to counteract this leveling influence.

Writing on the relationship between language and hipotesia predates Sapir and Whorf, and extends beyond the academy. The linguistics of “color”. He argued that language is often sapir-whorc metaphorically and that languages use different cultural metaphors that reveal something about how speakers of that language think.

The general semantics movement influenced the development of neurolinguistic programminganother therapeutic technique that seeks to use awareness of language use to influence cognitive patterns.

Whorf’s most elaborate argument for linguistic relativity regarded what he believed to be a fundamental difference in the understanding of time as a conceptual category among the Hopi. It is the ‘plainest’ English which contains the greatest number of unconscious assumptions about nature.

We dissect nature along lines laid down by our native language. The contrary constructivist position holds sapir-whorff human faculties and concepts are largely influenced by socially constructed and learned categories, without many biological restrictions.

Inhe suggested that Whorf was a “neo- Herderian champion” [47] and inhe proposed “Whorfianism of the third kind” in an attempt to refocus linguists’ attention on what he claimed was Whorf’s real interest, namely the intrinsic value of “little peoples” and “little languages”.

His Turing award lecture, “Notation as a tool of thought”, was devoted to this theme, arguing that more powerful notations aided thinking about computer algorithms. For example, Malotki’s monumental study of time expressions in Hopi presented many examples that challenged Whorf’s “timeless” interpretation of Hopi language and culture.

Andrews, David”The Russian color categories sinij and goluboj: Others have been fascinated by the possibilities of creating new languages that could enable new, and perhaps better, ways of thinking. Journal of Unsolved Questions.


Like Berlin and Kay, Maclaury concluded that the domain is governed mostly by physical-biological universals. As a result, people who speak different languages think differently in predictable ways.

Whorfian Hypothesis – Anthropology – Oxford Bibliographies

Critics such as Lenneberg, Black and Pinker attribute to Whorf a strong linguistic determinism, while LucySilverstein and Levinson point to Whorf’s explicit rejections of determinism, and where he contends that translation and commensuration is possible. A comparative analysis”, in Hickmann, M.

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. This is because there is a correspondence of the language with the intellectual part of man, or with his thought, like that of an effect with its cause. Lakoff also argued that metaphor plays an important part in political debates such as the “right to life” or the “right to choose”; or “illegal aliens” or “undocumented workers”.

Everett’s conclusions were met with skepticism from universalists [68] who claimed that the linguistic deficit is explained by the lack of need for such concepts. Whorf died in at age 44, leaving multiple unpublished papers. These examples of polysemy served the double purpose of showing that indigenous languages sometimes made more fine grained semantic distinctions than European languages and that direct translation between two languages, even of seemingly basic concepts such as snow or water, is not always possible.

Whorf attributed the occurrence of fires at a chemical plant to the workers’ use of the word ’empty’ to describe the barrels containing only explosive vapors. Views Read Edit View history. On the basis of their writings, however, two proposals emerged, generating decades of controversy among anthropologists, linguists, philosophers, and psychologists. Other such metaphors are common to many languages because they are based on general human experience, for example, metaphors likening up with good and bad with down.

In a presentation at an open source convention, Yukihiro Matsumotocreator of the programming language Rubysaid that one of his inspirations for developing the language was the science fiction novel Babelbased on the Sapir—Whorf Hypothesis.