Whorf believed that cross-linguistically there is “divergence in the analysis of the world”, and that “languages dissect nature in many different ways” (194), allocating objects and actions to sets of categories which may be different to other varieties. Spatial Language Facilitates Spatial Cognition: Evidence from Children Who Lack Language Input.
Setting out to test this claim, Choi and Bowerman (1991) asked both Korean and English-speaking children to separate a set of actions, including “joining two Lego pieces”, and “putting toys in container” (19), into two groups.
The ability of people to learn and to speak multiple languages casts doubt on the strong version of the theory, since a person may learn many different languages, but this does not change the way he/she thinks.
Therefore, the strong version of Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is refuted by the greater majority of linguists and anthropologists. Berlin & Kay, 1969) who argue that all languages share the same structure (hence, all people view the world identically, according to formalists), the weak Sapir-Whorf hypothesis still continues to interest scholars across many fields and disciplines including linguistics, anthropology, sociology, and psychology.
I will discuss how languages divide up nature differently, and the cognitive repercussions of doing so, before identifying contrasting methods of thinking about space and location, and then will finish by looking at how grammatical differences have the power to predispose a particular vision of reality.
Categorisation varies across different language groups One noticeable difference between some languages is the different ways in which they categorise the various aspects of their environment.
The agreement is, of course, an implicit and unstated one, but its terms are absolutely obligatory; we cannot talk at all except by subscribing to the organization and classification of data which the agreement decrees." -Whorf (193-14) While linguists generally agree that the weaker Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, also known as linguistic relativism, can be shown to be true to some extent, there are criticisms of the stronger form of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, also known as linguistic determinism.
Introduction: Linguistic relativity is the notion that language can affect our thought processes, and is often referred to as the ‘Sapir-Whorf hypothesis’, after the two linguists who brought the idea into the spotlight.
The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is the theory that an individual's thoughts and actions are determined by the language or languages that individual speaks.
The strong version of the hypothesis states that all human thoughts and actions are bound by the restraints of language, and is generally less accepted than the weaker version, which says that language only somewhat shapes our thinking and behavior.