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Nov 25th 2013 How does Language affect the way we think.docx

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Anthropology 1020E
Sherry Larkin

Nov 25th How does Language affect the way we think? Main Ideas: 1. Meaning emerges through interaction of culture, cognition (thinking) and categorization 2. Language influences the way we understand the world and act in the world 3. All languages have equal capacity to express everything speakers need to say Categorization - Help us generalize based on similarities and differences - Categories help us filter what to pay attention to in a given moment Cognition - Process of thinking - Involves the ability to categorize o Judge whether something is a member of a category or not  Not necessarily consciously o Linguistic categorizes  Gender Linguistic Determinism - “Sapir-Whorf hypothesis” (strong version) o Edward Sapir and Benjamin Whorf o 1920s/30s - Linguistic categories determine how we experience and think about the world o Thinking is dependent on what language we speak  This means all speakers of the same language think the same way which is wrong  Also means translation is impossible because we think differently b/w languages which is also not true Linguistic Relativity - The grammatical distinctions, vocabulary and sentence structure of the language(s) we speak influence how we experience and think about the world o We can learn new ways of thinking, languages etc Nov 25 th o Language guides us to pay attention to some features and ignore others (categories) - Speakers of different languages live in different worlds o Every language is equally capable of expressing what they need to Linguistic Relativity: Vocabulary - Cloth vs. towel Linguistic Relativity: Noun Classes Dyirbal (Northern Australia) o 4 noun classes with corresponding suffixes - 1. Men, most animate objects (-I or –ul) - 2. Women, water, fire, violence, exceptional
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