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Sapir-Whorf hypothesis - RationalWiki

A direct consequence of the relation that M asserts between the genetically and syntactically determined components of cognitive reach is a denial ofthe strong version of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis and a trivialization of the weak version. To understand how this is so, imagine a dynamic version of Figure 1 (like a cartoon or movie) that would represent what happens as language is acquired. Basically, by acquiring the grammar and lexicon of a natural language we expand what we can express in language to include much (although perhaps not all) of what we can understand in mentalese. Graphically, we can imagine the size of the proper subset expanding within the area of its superset as shown in Figure 3.

 Mathiot, Madeleine (1979). Ethnolinguistics: Boas, Sapir and Whorf Revisited. The Hague: Mouton.

The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis (the 'Korzybski' annexation came later) claims that the structure of a language defines the way a person behaves and thinks, must surely have it wrong according to many cognitive scientists, including Noam Chomsky, Steven Pinker, and others. Although the basic hypothesis of linguistic determinism surely has flaws, one should not overly criticize the first people who began thinking about this interesting subject. After all the subject refers to a hypothesis, not a theory, and certainly not fact (yet).

Ask A Linguist FAQ: The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

Benjamin Lee Whorf--Sapir's student, chemical engineer by training, workedas a fire prevention engineer, studied linguistics with Sapir.
1. "empty" gasoline drums-cigarette ends-fire: In his workinvestigating the origins of fires, he found that speakers of English usedthe words full and empty in describing gasoline drums in relation to theirliquid content alone; consequently, they would smoke beside "empty"gasoline drums which were actully "full" of gas vapor.
2. Hope study: The hopi language has three different words for thesame word "that" in the following sentences, one for 1), anotherfor 2) and still another for 3) and 4). That is because in Hopi language,the source of the knowledge about things is very important.
1. I see that it is red. (the sense of redness is formed on the basisof direct visual stimulus)
2. I see that it is new. (newness is inferred from a number of visual cluesand from one's past experience)
3. I hear that it is new. (Newness and redness are perceived as the
4. I hear that it is red. (result of a direct aural stimulus)
Such distinctions may be hard for speakers of English or other similar Europeanlanguages immediately understand because the Enlgish language, or the StandardAverage European (SAE), referring to European languages as a whole, doesn'tmake such distinction.

Whorf is different from Sapir in two ways. 1. The strongest version thehypothesis is associated with Whorf. It is also called the linguistic determinism.2. He extended what was restricted to vocabularies in Sapir's work to grammar.

Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis - California State University, Fresno

In the case of Robert Wilson's article on E-prime, perhaps he could have avoided the confusion by not mentioning the Sapir-Whorf-Korzybski Hypothesis at all (of course Wilson wrote this long before Pinker et al, so lets not blame him for lack of prophetic powers). After all, the weak interpretation doesn't require it, and I think the reader will surely understand that if you don't have the words to describe your ideas, then you simply can't convey your ideas to others (at least not through language). Moreover, if you use words that convey false ideas, then you can't help but create errors in communication. Wilson's take on the Sapir-Whorf-Korzybski Hypothesis and his analogy of GARBAGE IN, GARBAGE OUT refers to the software (the words and beliefs), and not the firmware (the language instinct). He implies a weak view of the hypothesis. In the case of E-prime, the user attempts to get rid of unnecessary and misleading words. This has nothing at all to do with changing the basic underlying structure of language. If you use the wrong words to convey your ideas, you will almost certainly guarantee wrong answers, which could lead others into believing falsehoods.

Additional Information While few linguists would accept the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis in its strong, extreme or deterministic form, many now accept a 'weak', more moderate, or limited view on the hypothesis.

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the “weak” version of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, ..

Moderate Whorfianism differs from extreme Whorfianism in these ways Sapir-Whorf Theory Today Can anyone in class verify that this hypothesis is true or false, on a personal level?

Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis - Revolvy

For those who criticize Sapir and Whorf, please realize that the article in question refers to the Sapir-Whorf-hypothesis. And as far as I can tell, the Korzybski addendum version refers to the weak interpretation.

Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis by Joe Rivera on Prezi

The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis states that there are certain thoughts of an individual in one language that cannot be understood by those who live in another language.

Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis - Psychology Wiki

Studies about relationship between language and culture and between language and thought have a long history and have placed a much conferred proposal to modern linguistic: the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis....

Ethnolinguistics, the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, and …

Theargument made by Eric Lenneberg against the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis is that“linguistic and non-linguistic events must be separately observed and describedbefore they can be correlated” (Carroll, 1956:28).He argues that there is no way to definelanguage as influencing thought when there is no distinction between these twoevents and that the evidence which supports language as influencing thought isbased purely on linguistic differences.

Ethnolinguistics, the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, ..

Pinker shows an appreciation of linguistics as a potential experimental science, and he discusses the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis at some length. However, he does not mention Loglan, a language which was designed to address in an experimental setting the issues raised by the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.

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