Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sapir-Whorf Revisted

Steve Sailer on "a commonsensical compromise" to what "has become very unfashionable in recent years" — "Does Your Language Shape How You Think?" "Languages differ essentially in what they must convey and not in what they may convey." The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis was the first linguistic concept I had to research in graduate school, and thus retains a special place in my heart.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share


Anonymous Pints in NYC said...

Here's something of interest, you might want to do a related blog post about:

# # #

Wired youth forget how to write in China and Japan

By Judith Evans (AFP)

12:33 AM  
Blogger The Sanity Inspector said...

And here at home, the DEA is reported to be hiring "ebonics" "translators". I've never liked that pseudo-academic name for it, much preferring the earthier term "jive".

5:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about ivronics?

7:24 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

How about Black English Vernacular, used by linguistic William Labov who found it was a rules-based system. Ebonics sounds stupid.

8:03 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Pints, I'm pretty sure I posted that story. Sad.

8:05 AM  
Blogger Robert Badger said...

A former linguistics professor, now in the employ of the State Department by the name of William C. Hannas wrote a controversial book a while back on how Asian orthography, most specifically Chinese characters has a deterring effect on creativity. Some accused him of trying to resurrect the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.

10:03 PM  
Blogger Enbrethiliel said...


It's an interesting post, and the comments are great, too.

I'm reminded of my Japanese roommate, whose favourite way to comment on any behaviour of mine she didn't like was to say: "You didn't have to do that!" It took me months to figure out that what she really meant was, "You shouldn't have done that AT ALL, and I don't care what your reasons were!!!"

The next year, I moved into the flat of two good friends, one from the United Arab Emirates and the other from Korea. When I shared the above with them, the girl from UAE joked that, in her experience with her friend, when Koreans say, "You don't have to do that," what they really mean is, "You must do that." LOL!

10:38 PM  
Blogger xavier said...


There was an article in the Strait Times, that the Internet, specifically chats and SMS are eroding the Chinese and japnese youths' ability to memorize the strokes to write their characters.

Steve is merely highlighting what I've always known. As I've often pointed out to my Canadian stduents, the French and English see the same reality but express it differently.

I'm noting that too as I'm struggling through my Mandarin classes.


4:24 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.