The Sapir-Whorf Relathesis

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The linguistic aspect of the discussion, however, focuses on the potential interrelation and interaction of concepts and language. It is obvious that language influences thought and vice versa, but the question is to what degree and how. Certainly, the most notable position that should be mentioned here is the controversial Sapir-Whorf hypothesis which has been subjected to many objections in linguistic circles. The theory’s general principle was first proposed by Edward Sapir in his essay ‘’The Status of Linguistics as a Science’’ (1929):
Human beings do not live in the objective world alone, nor alone in the world of social activity as ordinarily understood, but are very much at the mercy of the particular language which has become the medium
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(p. 209)
Probably the most common interpretation of Sapir’s quote is that the language we speak and think in forms our perception of the world and thus affects cognitive processes to some extent. Consequently, it is of high possibility that the speakers who use different language systems also perceive the world differently. This idea, also known as linguistic relativism, is considered to be a weaker version of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, since Sapir obviously acknowledged the objectiveness of reality in the above-quoted passage. However, Sapir’s ideas were further expanded by his student Benjamin Lee Whorf who developed a stronger version of the Hypothesis labeled as linguistic determinism, ‘’stating that people’s thoughts are determined by the categories made available by their language’’ (Pinker, 1995, p. 57). Fascinated by his professor’s work on the Native American languages, Whorf conducted contrastive studies of the Hopi Indian Language, trying to fortify and prove the linguistic relativism hypothesis. Namely, he primarily focused on the differences between the Hopi Indian Language and three languages (English, German and French) he considered to be ‘’Standard Average European’’ (SAE) because they
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