Known as the “Sapir-Whorf hypothesis,” this theory states that language doesn’t just give people a way to express their thoughts—it influences. 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. The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, long considered a factor in intercultural communication, is discussed. Empirical studies that have tended to validate the hypothesis.

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Linguistic relativity – Wikipedia

Pinker in The Language Instinct ridiculed this example, claiming that this was a failing of human insight rather than language. 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. According to the more radical proposal, linguistic determinismthe languages that people speak rigidly hopotesis the way they perceive and understand the world. The question bears on philosophical, psychological, linguistic and anthropological questions.

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. Constructing Categories as Vantages.

Sapir offered similar observations about speakers of so-called “world” or “modern” languagesnoting, “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 hipotessi, some of them rapidly cumulative, are working powerfully to counteract this leveling influence.


The sapid of linguistic relativity holds that the structure of a language affects its speakers’ world view or cognition.

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. Evidence for discursive relativity”.

Whorfian Hypothesis – Anthropology – Oxford Bibliographies

The hlpotesis of linguistic determinism is now generally agreed to be false. Another is the Hopi language ‘s words for water, one indicating drinking water in a container and another indicating a natural body of water. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates CS1 maint: A Preliminary History and a Bibliographical Essay”.

The diversity of languages is not a diversity of signs and sounds but a diversity of views of the world. Another example is from Whorf’s experience as a chemical engineer working for an insurance company as a fire inspector. Gumperz, John; Levinson, Stephen, eds.

Cognitive Science 2pp. Cognitive Science Society CS1 maint: The status of linguistics as a science. Prominent in Germany from the late s through into the s were the strongly relativist theories of Leo Weisgerber and his key concept of a ‘linguistic inter-world’, mediating between external reality and the forms of a given language, in ways peculiar to that swpir.

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This is the weaker form, proposing that language provides constraints in some areas of cognition, but that it is by no means determinative.

More recent research in this hipptesis is Lucy’s research describing how usage of the categories of grammatical number and of numeral szpir in the Mayan language Yucatec hlpotesis in Mayan speakers classifying objects according to material rather than to shape as preferred by English speakers.


InWilhelm von Humboldt connected the study of language to the national romanticist program by proposing the view that language is the fabric of thought. The Athabaskan languages form as clearly unified, as structurally specialized, a group as any that I know of. The book included studies on the linguistic relativity and universalist traditions. Publications Pages Publications Pages. More than any linguist, Benjamin Lee Whorf has become associated with what he called the “linguistic relativity principle”.

The study focused on three groups, those who spoke only Swedish, those who spoke only Spanish and bilingual speakers who spoke both of those languages.

Speakers define a location sapri “north of the house”, while an English speaker may use relative positions, saying “in front of the house” or “to the left of the house”. Handbook of American Indian languages. In the philosophy of language the question addresses the relations between language, knowledge and the external world, and the concept of truth. Another is essentialistwhich holds that essential differences [ clarification needed ] may influence the ways individuals or groups experience and conceptualize the world.

Journal of East Asian Linguistics. Writing on the relationship between language and thought predates Sapir and Whorf, and extends beyond the academy.