Saturday, January 28, 2006

sapir-whorf hypothesis

There's more to it than meets the eye. They used to talk about the "strong version" and the "weak version" and I don't remember the difference exactly; I'd have to look them up. So I"m kind of shooting from the hip here. But in essence it says that your language determines to some degree the way you see things. The example given back in early days was of the snow-country language that had six different words for different kinds of snow, while the rest of us had only one.

This was pooh-poohed for years for whatever reason; when I went to graduate school it was clearly out of favor. But I chewed it over a few times since, and I don't reject it entirely. I have to gather thoughts on this, but they'll be coming soon.

BTW this is part of a series of language-related articles which will keep coming; scroll down for a small index. Comments are welcome.


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