What is the Sapir-Whorfhypothesis?

While Sapir never made a point of studying directly how languages affected the thought processes of their speakers, some notion of (probably "weak") linguistic relativity lay inherent in his basic understanding of language, and would be taken up by his student Benjamin Lee Whorf.

Definition and Examples of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

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

Sapir-Whorf hypothesis | Define Sapir-Whorf hypothesis …

Boas' student Edward Sapir reached back to the Humboldtian idea that languages contained the key to understanding the differing world views of peoples. In his writings he espoused the viewpoint that because of the staggering differences in the grammatical systems of languages no two languages were ever similar enough to allow for perfect translation between them. Sapir also thought because language represented reality differently, it followed that the speakers of different languages would perceive reality differently. According to Edward Sapir:

Ask A Linguist FAQ: The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

A main point of debate in the discussion of linguistic relativity is the correlation between language and thought. The strongest form of correlation is linguistic determinism, which would hold that language entirely determines the range of possible cognitive processes of an individual. This view has sometimes been attributed to Benjamin Lee Whorf, and to , but it is not currently the consensus that either of these thinkers actually espoused determinist views of the relation between language and thought. Linguistic determinism is also sometimes described as "the strong Sapir-Whorf hypothesis", while other forms of correlation are referred to as "the weak Sapir-Whorf hypothesis". The notion of "weak" and "strong" versions of Whorf's principle of linguistic relativity is a misunderstanding of Whorf promulgated by , whom Whorf considered "utterly incompetent by training and background to handle such a subject." Neither Sapir nor Whorf ever suggested a distinction between weak or strong versions of their views. The hypothesis of linguistic determinism is now generally agreed to be false, but weaker forms of correlation are still being studied by many researchers, often producing positive for a correlation.

Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis | Cognitive Linguistics | …

Sapir offers similar observations about speakers of so-called "world" or , noting that "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. 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."

Benjamin Lee Whorf | Linguistics

The idea was first clearly expressed by 19th-century thinkers, such as , who saw language as the expression of the spirit of a nation. Members of the early 20th-century school of American anthropology headed by and Edward Sapir also embraced forms of the idea to one extent or another, but Sapir in particular wrote more often against than in favor of anything like linguistic determinism. Sapir's student, Benjamin Lee Whorf, came to be seen as the primary proponent as a result of his published observations of how he perceived linguistic differences to have consequences in human cognition and behavior. , one of Sapir's students, introduced the term "Sapir–Whorf hypothesis", even though the two scholars never formally advanced any such hypothesis. A strong version of relativist theory was developed from the late 1920s by the German linguist . Whorf's principle of linguistic relativity was reformulated as a testable hypothesis by and who conducted experiments designed to find out whether varies between speakers of languages that classified colors differently. As the study of the universal nature of human language and cognition came into focus in the 1960s the idea of linguistic relativity fell out of favor among linguists. A 1969 study by and demonstrated the existence of universal semantic constraints in the field of color terminology which were widely seen to discredit the existence of linguistic relativity in this domain, although this conclusion has been disputed by relativist researchers.

Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis/ Language And Thought - LingQ

Drawing on influences such as Humboldt or some European thinkers developed similar ideas to those of Sapir and Whorf, generally working in isolation from one another. Prominent in Germany from the late 1920s through into the 1960s were the strongly relativist theories of 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 language. Russian psychologist read Sapir's work and experimentally studied the ways in which the development of concepts in children was influenced by structures given in language. His theories and results were published in 1934 as "Thought and Language" Vygotsky's ideas have been compared to Whorf's and taken as mutually supportive evidence of language's influence on cognition. Drawing on Nietzsche's ideas of perspectivism developed the theory of which has been compared to Whorf's notions of linguistic relativity. Though influential in their own right, these strands of research have not been given much attention in the debate surrounding linguistic relativity, which has tended to center on the American paradigm exemplified by Sapir and Whorf.