"What is the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis?",

This idea, also known as the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, is the theory that the language we speak influences the way we think and the way language influences our perception of reality.
Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis
The Hypnosis Tape
In this episode of Friends called "The one with the Hypnosis Tape", Rachel pushes Chandler to quit smoking by lending him a hypnosis tape.

Using these examples, we can begin to understand the philosophy behind the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis.

Developing a corps of fluent speaker/teachers of the language will therefore be high on The Institute's agenda for the 1990's. So I may end this chapter where I began it by addressing those who believe that the chance of the Whorf hypothesis's being true is sufficiently high, and the human benefits of finding that out with Loglan are sufficiently great, that we are justified in learning it. So, I confess, do I. Indeed, it is only if sufficient numbers of us do accept this calculated wager that we will ever find out if Loglan is Whorf's instrument...perhaps even whether the Whorf hypothesis is, in that qualified scientific sense, true or not.

Kempton, "What is the Sapir-Whorf

The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis.

Let us suppose that what Sapir and Whorf thought they had observed in nature actually exists. For brevity, let us call it the "Whorfian phenomenon". What other data do we have that might help is to understand the Whorfian phenomenon? There are two other fairly impressive bodies of data that relate human cultural enterprises to linguistic structures. One is provided by the history of mathematics; the other, by the everyday experience of travelers who learn foreign languages.


Suppose that despite all such vigorous experimental efforts to refute it, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis survives. Suppose an explanatory model emerges from these efforts that does successfully relate Whorfian linguistic causes to Whorfian psychological effects, that is, to a measurable expansion of the mind. Suppose as well that the effects we discover are as wholly salubrious as the predicted ones were: mind-expanding, thought-facilitating, and yet completely harmless to the persons who experience them. Such a pattern of scientifically induced effects could only be seen as augmenting human life. Probably all who learned about them would want to feel and see them happening in their own and others' lives. Suppose, further, that Loglan were the instrument of this extraordinary discovery, that it actually was the instrument that the experimenters used to turn on Whorfian effects. Wouldn't learning Loglan in the living-room promise to produce approximately the same effects? Wouldn't the entire experimental program, in fact, now be seen as a successful assessment of a proposed new educational experience, one that was available to everyone? It might even be seen as a treatment of a disease we didn't know we had! LLL, the disease of "local language limitation", or UNM of "unnecessarily narrowed minds". A disease, moreover, that had been pandemic on the planet until the studies of Sapir and Whorf began, nearly fifty years ago, to sniff it out? And wouldn't Loglan itself then be seen as the gentle new cure for that ancient human malady? An antidote for the antique provincialism of the human spirit? For what the late American psychiatrist-anthropologist Erik Erikson tellingly called our extraordinary tendency to "pseudo-speciate"? To behave like different species toward one another even though we're not? An antidote for the bigotry with which even "civilized people" tend to view their neighbors in the global village?

enablement interpretations of the Whorf hypothesis are not ..

The truth is that there is a large unmeasured main-effect in such nature-embedded experimental designs, as well as unknown interactions with other factors. Who knows how North American English-speaking life prepared, biased, or even seduced our subjects into displaying pseudo-Whorfian effects under just such circumstances? What complex pattern of so-called "Hawthorne effects" might we have created?