Language culture & thought

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Language culture & thought

  1. 1. Linguistic Determinism<br />The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis<br />Culture<br />1<br />Language culture & thought<br />
  2. 2. What Is Linguistic Determinism?<br />2<br />What is determined?<br />What is doing the determinining?<br />What in language is doing the determining?<br />Why is this a structuralist approach?<br />
  3. 3. Boas, Sapir, and Whorf<br />3<br />Boas: “… it determines those aspects of experience that must be expressed…”<br />Sapir: Language is a guide to "social reality." <br />Whorf: We dissect nature along lines laid down by our native languages. <br />Sometimes called the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.<br />
  4. 4. A difficult concept put simply<br />4<br />We use language to interpret and organise reality<br />Through language we transmit our culture<br />Through language we categorise the world we live in<br />Language AFFECTS and REFLECTS reality<br />
  5. 5. The Whorfian Hypothesis (1)<br />5<br />What is a hypothesis?<br />Whorf attempted to provide examples of language differences and not simply made the claim.<br />Whorf actually claimed that some languages may be superior to European languages.<br />SAE<br />
  6. 6. The Whorfian Hypothesis (2)<br />6<br />‘Are our concepts of time, space and matter given in substantially the same form by experience to all men [sic], or are they in part conditioned by the structure of particular languages?’<br />Answer: This is the Whorfian Hypothesis<br />
  7. 7. The Whorfian Hypothesis (3)<br />7<br />Are there traceable affinities between cultural and behavioral norms and large scale linguistic patterns?<br />Answer: “I [Whorf] would be the last to pretend that there is anything so definite as a correlation between culture and language and especially between ethnological rubrics such as agricultural, hunting etc, and linguistic ones like inflected, synthetic and isolating.<br />
  8. 8. Lets deal with … snow!<br />8<br />Franz Boaz in The Handbook of North American Indians (1911) said that Eskimos have four different words for snow, where English has just one.<br />aput for snow on the ground<br />qana for falling snow<br />Piqsirpoqfor drifting snow<br />Qimuqsuqfor snowdrift<br />
  9. 9. Lets deal with … snow!<br />9<br />The real point though refers to the way languages divide up the world. Eskimo does use different words to name snow that’s falling and snow that’s already on the ground. For example (Central Alaskan Yupik):<br />qanuk = falling snow, snowflake<br />aniu = snow on the ground<br />In English what are we referring to when we say ‘Look at the snow!’<br />Does having a single word mean you can’t conceive of the subtypes of the same thing?<br />Does the lack of a common term inhibit thinking about two things as similar?<br />

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