Topic: What is the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis?

Whorf was influenced by his study of the Hopi language, which does not contain any words or grammatical structures corresponding to notions of time; the language makes no reference to past, present, or future. From this, Whorf argues that the metaphysics embodied in the Hopi language is fundamentally different from that encoded in Western European languages such as English. This suggests that the fundamental worldview of the Hopi, and therefore their underlying thought processes, must be different from ours. Another favorite piece of evidence for the hypothesis involves the observation that the Inuit language has many different words for snow, depending on such characteristics as color, density, etc., whereas we in temperate climates merely call it by one word.

Wardhaugh then analyzes the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis with different perspectives.

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is a theory put forward by Edward Sapir in 1929 and later his student Benjamin Whorf. According to this theory, language structure holds a strong influence on how individuals think and behave in a culture.


Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis Essay - 2753 Words - StudyMode

To support the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, Wardhaugh expresses his opinions mainly in two aspects.

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Definition and Examples of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

Studies about relationship between language and culture and between language and thought have a long history and have placed a much conferred proposal to modern linguistic: the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis....

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The tradition was taken up by the American linguist and anthropologist Edward Sapir (1884-1939) and his pupil Benjamin Lee Whorf (1897-1941), and resulted in a view about the relation between language and thought which was widely influential in the middle decades of this century....

Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis - 2753 Words | Bartleby

Proponents of linguistic determinism argue that such differences between languages influence the ways people think—perhaps the ways in which whole cultures are organized. Among the strongest statements of this position are those by Benjamin Lee Whorf and his teacher, Edward Sapir, in the first half of this century—hence the label, 'The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis', for the theory of linguistic relativity and determinism. Whorf proposed: 'We cut nature up, organize it into concepts, and ascribe significances as we do, largely because we are parties to an agreement to organize it in this way—an agreement that holds throughout our speech community and is codified in the patterns of our language' (Whorf, 1940; in Carroll, 1956, pp. 213-4). And, in the words of Sapir: 'Human beings...are very much at the mercy of the particular language which has become the medium of expression for their society. ...The fact of the matter is that the "real world" is to a large extent unconsciously built up on the language habits of the group' (Sapir, 1929; in Manlbaum, 1958, p. 162).