Sociology Index

WHORF-SAPIR HYPOTHESIS

In Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, also called Whorf-Sapir hypothesis, rather than just being a means of expressing thought, language is claimed to form thought. People of different language communities will see and understand in different ways. Sociologists regard Whorf-Sapir hypothesis as too deterministic and stress the dynamic way in which language responds to social and technical transformation of society. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is theory that one's perception of the world is determined by the structure of one's native language and that the concepts and structure of languages profoundly shape the perception and world view of speakers. There are several studies that dispute the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. These studies favor universalism over relativism in the realm of linguistic structure and function.

Benjamin Lee Whorf (1897-1941); Whorfian hypothesis is the theory that one's perception of the world is determined by the structure of one's native language.

Edward Sapir (1884-1939), German-born American linguistics scholar and anthropologist. His book Language (1921) presents his thesis that language should be studied within its social and cultural context.

He gave man speech, and speech created thought which is the measure of the universe - Shelley.

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis theorizes that thoughts and behavior are determined by language. If true, culture controlled by Newspeak or some other language is not just science fiction. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis has caused controversy and spawned research in a variety of disciplines including linguistics, education, psychology, philosophy and anthropology.

Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf brought attention to the relationship between language, thought, and culture. Neither education nor Benjamin Lee Whorf supported it with empirical evidence. Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is the theory of linguistic determinism that states that the language you speak determines the way that you will interpret the world around you.

Both Sapir and Whorf agreed that it is our culture that determines our language and the way that we categorize our thoughts about the world and our experiences in it.

Sapir Whorf Bibliography

Chandler, D. 1994. The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis.

Davies, I., P. Sowden and D. Jerrett. 1998. A Cross-cultural Study of English and Setswana Speakers on a Colour Triads Task: A Test of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis. British Journal of Psychology 89:1-15.

Hunt, E. and F. Agnoli. 1991. The Whorfian Hypothesis: A Cognitive Psychology Perspective. Psychology Review 98:377-389.

Johnston, P. 1996. Between Mush and a Hard Place." ETC: A Review of General Semantics 53(3):285-292.

Kay, P, W. Kempton 1984. What is the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis? American Anthropologist 86.

Lucy, J. and R. Shweder. 1979. Whorf and His Critics: Linguistic and Nonlinguistic Influences on Color Memory. American Anthropologist 81:581-615.

Alford, D. 1980. "Demise of the Whorf-Sapir Hypothesis."

Abrams, M. H. (1953): The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition. Oxford: OUP.

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Black, M.1962. Models and Metaphors. NY: Cornell University Press.

Bloom, A. 1981. The Linguistic Shaping of Thought. Hillsdale, NJ: L. Erlbaum.

Bowers, C. A. (1988): The Cultural Dimensions of Educational Computing: Understanding the Non-Neutrality of Technology. New York: Teachers College Press

Brown, R. 1957. Linguistic Determinism and the Part of Speech. Journal of Abnormal Social Psychology 55:1-5.

Brown, R. 1976. In Memorial Tribute to Eric Lenneberg. Cognition 4:125-153.

Brown, R. and E. Lenneberg. 1954. A Study in Language and Cognition. Journal of Abnormal. Social Psychology 49:454-462.

Brown, R. and E. Lenneberg. 1958. Studies in Linguistic Relativity. Readings in Social Psychology. NY: Holt, Rinehart Winston.
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Brown, Roger L.1968. Wilhelm von Humboldt's Conception of Linguistic Relativity. Paris: Mouton.

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Carroll, J. 1956. Introduction. Language, Thought Reality: Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Carroll, J. and J. Casagrande. 1958. The Function of Language Classification in Behavior. Readings in Social Psychology. New York: Holt, Rinehart Winston.

Chandler, D. 1994. The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis.

Chandler, Daniel (1995): The Act of Writing. Aberystwyth: UWA

Cole, M. and S. Scribner. 1974. Culture and Thought: A Psychological Introduction. New York: Wiley.

Cooper, R. and B. Spolsky (Eds.). 1991. Influence of Language on Culture Thought. New York: Mounton de Gruyter.

Crystal, D. 1987. Thought and Language. Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.

Crystal, David (1993): The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language. Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press

Davies, I. 1998. A Study of Colour Grouping in Three Languages: A Test of the Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis." British Journal of Psychology 89(3):433-453.

Davies, I. and G. Gorbet. 1997. A Cross-cultural Study of Colour Grouping: Evidence for Weak Linguistic Relativity. British Journal of Psychology 88(3):493-519.

Davies, I., P. Sowden and D. Jerrett. 1998. A Cross-cultural Study of English and Setswana Speakers on a Colour Triads Task: A Test of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis. British Journal of Psychology 89:1-15.
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Greenberg, J. 1963. Language and Linguistics. Behavioral Sciences Today. New York: Basic Books.
Gross, Richard (1998): Psychology - The Science of Mind and Behaviour (2nd Edition). London: Hodder Stoughton
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Hunt, E. and F. Agnoli. 1991. The Whorfian Hypothesis: A Cognitive Psychology Perspective. Psychology Review 98:377-389.

Johnston, P. 1996. Between Mush and a Hard Place. ETC: A Review of General Semantics 53(3):285-292.

Kay, P and W. Kempton. 1984. What is the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis?" American Anthropologist 86:65-79.

Lee, P. 1997. Language in Thinking and Learning: Pedagogy and the New Whorfian Framework. Harvard Educational Review 67:430-471.

Lenneberg, E. 1953. Cognition in Ethnolinguistics. Language 29:469-470.

Lucy, J. 1997. Linguistic Relativity." Annual Review of Anthropology 26:291-313.

Lucy, J. and R. Shweder. 1979. Whorf and His Critics: Linguistic and Nonlinguistic Influences on Color Memory. American Anthropologist 81:581-615.

Lyons, J.1981. Language and Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Mandelbaum, D. 1956. Edward Sapir: Culture, Language Personality. Berkeley, CA: Univ. of California Press.

McLuhan, M. (1962): The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul

McLuhan, M. (1964): Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. New York: McGraw-Hill

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Pederson. 1999. Linguistic Relativity/Determinism.

Penn, J. 1972. Linguistic Relativity Versus Innate Ideas: The Origins of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis in German Thought. Paris: Mouton.

Peterson, C. and M. Siegal. 1995. Deafness, Conversation and Theory of Mind. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines 36:459-474

Phillips, C. 1998. Language and Thought: The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis.

Pinker, Steven (1994): The Language Instinct. Harmondsworth: Penguin

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Popper, K. (1970): 'Normal Science and its Dangers'. In I. Lakatos A. Musgrave (eds.) (1970): Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge. London: Cambridge University Press

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Riner, R.D. 1990. LOGLAN and the Option of Clarity. ETC: A Review of General Semantics 47(3):269-280.

Ross, P.E. 1992. New Whoof in Whorf.: An Old Language Theory Regains its Authority. Scientific American 266(2):24-26.

Rossi-Landi, F.1973. Ideologies of Linguistic Relativity. Paris: Mouton.

Sapir, E. (1929): 'The Status of Linguistics as a Science'. In E. Sapir (1958): Culture, Language and Personality (ed. D. G. Mandelbaum). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press

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Schlesinger, I.M. 1991. The Wax and Wane of Whorfian Views, in Cooper, R. and B. Spolsky (Eds.) Influence of Language on Culture Thought. New York: Mounton de Gruyter.

Skoyles, J. 1999. The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis: New Surprising Evidence.

Slobin, D.1974. Psycholinguistics. London: Scott, Foresman and Company.

Steiner, G. (1975): After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation. London: Oxford Univ. Press

Steinfatt, T. 1989. Linguistic Reality: Toward a Broader View." Language, Communication and Culture: Current Directions. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Stone, P. W. K. (1967): The Art of Poetry 1750-1820: Theories of Poetic Composition and Style in the Late Neo-Classic and Early Romantic Periods. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul

Terwilliger, R. 1968. Meaning and Mind: A Study in the Psychology of Language. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

Times (2000): 'R U in 2 txt', The Times, Tuesday Dec 26, 2000 URL: thetimes.co.uk/article10,,7-57824,00.html

Wassman, J. and P. Dasen. 1998. "Balinese Spatial Orientation. Journal of Royal Anthropological Institute 4(4):689-713.

Whorf, B. L. (1940): 'Science and Linguistics', Technology Review 42(6): 229-31, 247-8. Also in B. L. Whorf (1956): Language, Thought and Reality (ed. J. B. Carroll). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press

Winner, L. (1977): Autonomous Technology: Technics-Out-Of-Control as a Theme in Political Thought. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.