Whorfian Hypothesis Essay

1552 Words7 Pages
Isabel Ruela-Fernandes ENG 5120 3/26/2014 Whorfian Hypothesis Reaction In reading The Whorfian Hypothesis I found that it is very complex and confusing. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is the theory that an individual's thoughts and actions are determined by the language or languages that individual speaks. I speak three languages and I could not relate to this statement that one’s thoughts are determined by the language? There are two versions to his hypothesis 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. This weaker version seems to make more sense to me. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is in effect two propositions, which in a very basic form could perhaps be summed up as firstly Linguistic Determinism (language determines thought), and secondly Linguistic relativity (difference in language equals difference in thought). This topic of determinism and relativity can be applied to many areas – the study of to what extent technology influences our lives is termed the technological determinism debate. In psychology, discussion of this nature regarding the effect of environment and genetic makeup on our lives is called the nature/nurture debate. In a ‘purer’ form, there are philosophical questions of free will and determinism. In a historical context, 'The philosophical problem of freedom and determinism is in reality a cluster of problems with different sources' (Dillman 1999). Linguistic determinism means that a person's language affects how they understand the world. In understanding this concept, I do not believe one needs language to understand the world, but one needs language to share the understanding. Linguistic relativity means the way a

More about Whorfian Hypothesis Essay

Open Document