The Relationship Between Language and Culture

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Essay 1: HUMAN BEINGS DO NOT LIVE IN THE OBJECT WORLD ALONE Human beings do not live in the object 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 of expression for their society. It is quite an illusion to imagine that one adjusts to reality essentially without the use of language and that language is merely an incidental means of solving specific problems of communication or reflection. The fact of the matter is that the "real world" is to a large extent unconsciously built on the language habits of the group.. .. We see and hear and otherwise experience very largely as we do because the language habits of our community predispose certain choices of interpretation. (Sapir, 1921, p. 75) Is our perception determined by the language that we use, that we have learned as our mother tongue? In the aforementioned quote, Edward Sapir states exactly this: There is no reality but the one we perceive, employ-ing the forms and interpretations that our language offers. This implies that language is not only a "means of solving specific problems of communication or reflection", in particular not simply a tool to transmit information, as in the Shannon-Weaver model of communication (Weaver & Shannon 1963). While Sapir focuses on the way the "real world" exists due to our perception, the idea includes that the way we think (our cognition) is shaped by language, making in return our behaviour determined by language - thus shaping the image of a social group, of a society, of a culture. Taking notice of this hypothesis, known in literature as the "Sapir-Whorf hypothesis" (Chandler 1994, after Sapir's student Benjamin Lee Whorf) or "linguistic relativity" (Boroditsky 2003) the arising questions are about the relationships between language, perception, cognition,
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