Birth of Linguist Benjamin Lee Whorf

Birth of Linguist Benjamin Lee Whorf

Benjamin Lee Whorf
Source: Wikipedia

Timeline of History

History Topics
History of Science
Countries

Linguist Benjamin Lee Whorf is born. According to Whorf, language exists in our mind prior to our experience of reality and thus language serves to shape and define our reality.

Because of this, people who share a language also share a binding agreement as to what reality is. On the other hand, people with different languages literally have different realities.

Benjamin Lee Whorf's linguistic relativism was popular in the 1950s but has since been discredited. One of the ideas used to support this principle was the claim that the Inuit (Eskimos) have large numbers of words for the concept of "snow," whereas English has only one. Thus, the reality of the Inuit consists of much more subtlety and variation (at least where snow is concerned) than does the reality of English speakers.

Unfortunately, both premises in the above example are false. The Inuit do not have large numbers of words for the concept of snow, and English has many (flurries, sleet, etc.). Despite this and many other facts (like how color terminology in various languages seem to follow nearly identical structural patterns) which demonstrate that linguistic relativism simply isn't true, it has managed to retain some popularity.

There are still social and psychological theories which simply assume that our language is instrumental in forming our reality.

Video

Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis (starts at 4:27)

User comments

There are no user comments for this item.

Ratings (the higher the better)
Interesting
Comment
    Please enter the security code.
 
 
Powered by JReviews

Today's Major Events

Pope Clement XII Issues Papal Decree Against Freemasons, Bans Catholics From Joining
Birth of Saddam Hussein, Future Dictator of Iraq
Gallup: Most Americans Prefer Name 'Second World War' or 'World War II'
Archbishop Stepinac Urges Catholics to Work With Ustashe Fascist Leader Ante Pavelic
Birth of Kurt Gödel, Philosopher and Mathematician