Linguistic Relativity Thesis

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According to the strong version, the language we speak determines/constraints the way we think and view the real world.

According to the weak version, the language does influence to some extent the way we think and view the real world, however, does not fully determine or constraint it.

I will discuss how languages divide up nature differently, and the cognitive repercussions of doing so, before identifying contrasting methods of thinking about space and location, and then will finish by looking at how grammatical differences have the power to predispose a particular vision of reality.

Categorisation varies across different language groups One noticeable difference between some languages is the different ways in which they categorise the various aspects of their environment.

The ability of people to learn and to speak multiple languages casts doubt on the strong version of the theory, since a person may learn many different languages, but this does not change the way he/she thinks.

Therefore, the strong version of Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is refuted by the greater majority of linguists and anthropologists. Berlin & Kay, 1969) who argue that all languages share the same structure (hence, all people view the world identically, according to formalists), the weak Sapir-Whorf hypothesis still continues to interest scholars across many fields and disciplines including linguistics, anthropology, sociology, and psychology.

(1978) Words in context: A Japanese perspective on language and culture.

Language, Thought and Reality: Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf.

The worlds in which different societies live are distinct worlds, not merely the same world with different labels attached...

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 (19) "We dissect nature along lines laid down by our native languages.


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