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THE SAPIR-WHORF HYPOTHESIS

FRANCOISE ROBLEDO GUTIÉRREZ

UNIVERSIDAD DEL QUINDÍO FACULTAD DE EDUCACIÓN LINGÜÍSTICA GENERAL ARMENIA 2011


THE SAPIR-WHORF HYPOTHESIS

FRANCOISE ROBLEDO GUTIÉRREZ

PRESENSETADO A: JHON ALEXANDER SERNA

UNIVERSIDAD DEL QUINDÍO FACULTAD DE EDUCACIÓN LINGÜÍSTICA GENERAL ARMENIA 2011


CONTENTS

TITLE

PAGE

THE SAPIR-WHORF HYPOTHESIS………………………………………………..…4 CHARACTERISTICS…………………………………………………………………….5 FOUNDERS……………………………………………………………………………….6 THE LINGUISTIC RELATIVITY HYPOTHESIS……………………………………….7 HISTORY OF THE HYPOTHESIS………………………………………………………8 EXAMPLES………………………………………………………………………………..9 BIBLIOGRAPHY……………………………………………………………………….…10


THE SAPIR-WHORF HYPOTHESIS

INTRODUCTION We must start generalizing that the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis states that Languages, especially members of quite different language families, differ in important ways from one another, and that the structure and lexicon of one's language influences how one perceives and conceptualizes the world, and they do so in a systematic way. These two claims suggest that speakers of quite different languages think about the world in quite different ways. There is a clear sense in which the thesis of linguistic diversity is uncontroversial. Even if all human languages share many underlying, abstract linguistic universals, there are often large differences in their syntactic structures and in their lexicons.


CHARACTERISTICS 

The hypothesis postulates that a particular language's nature influences the habitual thought of its speakers: that different language patterns yield different patterns of thought. 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 structure of a language can strongly influence or determine someone’s World View. A World View describes a (hopefully) consistent and integral sense of existence and provides a theoretical framework for generating, sustaining and applying knowledge.

Structural differences between languages are paralleled by nonlinguistic cognitive differences (the structure of the language itself effects cognition).

The semantic systems of different languages vary without constraint.


FOUNDERS: Edward Sapir

Edward Sapir (January 26, 1884 in Lauenburg – February 4, 1939) was a GermanAmerican anthropologist-linguist. Sapir was an American anthropological linguist who, like so many anthropologists of his day, was a student of Franz Boas. He was also the teacher of Whorf, a businessman and amateur linguist. He was one of the creators of what is now called the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. He was a highly influential figure in American linguistics, influencing several generations of linguists across several schools of the discipline.

Benjamin Lee Whorf Benjamin Lee Whorf (April 24, 1897 in Winthrop, Massachusetts – July 26, 1941) was an American linguist. Whorf is widely known for his ideas about linguistic relativity, the hypothesis that language influences thought. An important theme in many of his publications, he has been credited as one of the fathers of this approach, often referred to as the "Sapir-Whorf hypothesis", named after him and his mentor Edward Sapir. Originally educated as a chemical engineer, he took up an interest in linguistics late in his life, studying with Sapir at Yale University. In the last ten years of his life he dedicated his spare time to linguistic studies, doing field work on Native American languages in the US and Mexico. He managed to become one of the most influential linguists of his time. He published a grammar of the Hopi language, studies of Nahuatl dialects, Maya hieroglyphic writing, and the first attempt at a reconstruction of Uto-Aztecan. He also published many articles in the most prestigious linguistic journals, many of them dealing with the ways in which he saw that different linguistic systems affected the thought systems and habitual behavior of language users.


The Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis Many thinkers have urged that large differences in language lead to large differences in experience and thought. They hold that each language embodies a worldview, with quite different languages embodying quite different views, so that speakers of different languages think about the world in quite different ways. This view is sometimes called the Whorf-hypothesis or the Whorf-Sapir hypothesis, after the linguists who made it famous. But the label linguistic relativity, which is more common today, has the advantage that makes it easier to separate the hypothesis from the details of Whorf's views, which are an endless subject of exegetical dispute (Gumperz and Levinson, 1996, contains a sampling of recent literature on the hypothesis). The suggestion that different languages carve the world up in different ways, and that as a result their speakers think about it differently has a certain appeal. But questions about the extent and kind of impact that language has on thought are empirical questions that can only be settled by empirical investigation. And although linguistic relativism is perhaps the most popular version of descriptive relativism, the conviction and passion of partisans on both sides of the issue far outrun the available evidence. As usual in discussions of relativism, it is important to resist all-or-none thinking.


History of the Hypothesis Like many other relativistic themes, the hypothesis of linguistic relativity became a serious topic of discussion in late-eighteenth and nineteenth-century Germany, particularly in the work of Johann Georg Hamann (1730-88), Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803), and Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767-1835). It was later defended by thinkers as diverse as Ernst Cassirer and Peter Winch. Thus Cassirer tells us that: The distinctions which here are taken for granted, the analysis of reality in terms of things and processes, permanent and transitory aspects, objects and actions, do not precede language as a substratum of given fact, but that language itself is what initiates such articulations, and develops them in its own sphere. But the hypothesis came to prominence though the work of Edward Sapir and his student Benjamin Lee Whorf. Indeed, it is often called the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, or simply the Whorf hypothesis. There are connections among some of these writers; for example, Sapir wrote his M.A. thesis on Herder's Origin of Language. Still, this is a remarkably diverse group of thinkers who often arrived at their views by different routes, and so it is not surprising that the linguistic relativity hypothesis comes in a variety of forms.


EXAMPLES 

Example by the Holland Linguistic Marriane Starren: The Germans perceive the world in quite different ways from the English. If we show a video of a moving train to a group of Germans and asked them to describe what they see, they would say: "The train goes to the station or away from it." However, the English will see a moving train without further: "The train is in motion." Or "The train is riding." They have the form '-ing' of verbs, called the present continuous. With it can easily tell that something happens now, at this very moment, while German is grammatically much more complicated and have to resort to a paraphrase unnatural.

Distinguishing the many green (in language) of the Amazon Indians and the few that we distinguish. Does that mean we do not see the different greens? Obviously, no. What this means is that our way of life is not so important.

Zuni Native Americans have not a different word for "yellow" and "orange" and that influences their thinking. The truth is that they have those words, but differ as well as orange yellow. What happens is that their way of life the difference is irrelevant, although as explained, memory habits do seem affected by the existence of lexical distinction.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

Taken from WEB from the next pages: http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/short/whorf.html http://www.angelfire.com/journal/worldtour99/sapirwhorf.html http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/cultural/language/whorf.html http://gonzalofernandez.wordpress.com/2007/07/11/la-hipotesis-de-sapir-whorf/ http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/relativism/supplement2.html

Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf Hypothesis  

Breve trabajo recopilatorio de la hipotesis de la relatividad Lingüística planteada por Edward Sapir y Benjamin Lee Whorf. En este documento...

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