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Whorf’s linguistic relativity hypothesis Research Paper


It is obvious that different people have absolutely various perception of the reality and much talk exists concerning this problem. Whorf’s linguistic relativity hypothesis is based on the idea that human perception of the reality is based on the language they talk.

Thus, according to this theory depending on the language people talk, they are united in their vision of the reality. Even though this theory has many rejections and it is believed to be the weakest one, there are a lot of supportive arguments which give an opportunity for the idea to deserve attention.

Liang (2011) states that culture and the way people think depend on the language they talk greatly. The perception of the world depends on human culture as in most cases cultural and traditional aspects influence people from their birth and it presupposes the formation of their vision of the surrounding reality based on the cultural and traditional aspects which, in their turn, affect language as well.

Additionally, Liang (2011) stresses on the idea that language helps express that vision that makes it possible to correct or change the reality, “the theory of linguistic relativity does not claim that linguistic structure constrains what people can think or perceive, only that it tends to influence what they routinely do think, which makes us realize that language reflects cultural preoccupations and that how important context is in complementing the meanings encoded in the language” (p. 570).

For example, Indonesian language does not have the past tense, that is why all the actions people did are still considered in the presence tense and it makes the perception of time of Indonesians different from other part of the world. This influences their perception of the world greatly.

January & Kako (2007) analyzed the works by Whorf and made a stress on the research when the language of Indian tribes was compared with the English one. The difference was great as the literature translation was useless and the meaning was absolutely wrong.

It proved the theory of the connection between the perception of the world and language. Whorf considered language as not the means for expressing ideas, but also as the means of formation of those ideas stating that his is one of the main confirmations of his theory (Koerner, 2002).

Grelland (2006) conducted a research on the basis of the Whorf’s theory of linguistic reality trying to confirm that consistent mathematical structure has physical images which are products of a classical language. The author also referred to the idea that it is important how the language is used.

Casasanto (2008) also agrees that language influences the shape of the thought as via language people get the image of the surrounding world. Different languages may carry different information and in this case, the perception of the world is going to differ greatly.

Rączaszek-Leonardi (2010) is sure that “the interaction between a grammatical feature and cognitive processes involved in making semantic decisions about objects can be viewed on at least three timescales: the online influences, ontogenetic timescale, and the timescale of diachronic language change” (p. 281).

This idea supports the understanding of the Whorf’s role of language in the formation of human perception of the surrounding world. The formation of the language is based on the perception of the surrounding world, at the same time the language is changing and the changes are based on the world perception.

Reference List

Casasanto, D. (2008). Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Whorf? Crosslinguistic Differences in Temporal Language and Thought. Language Learning, 58, 63-79.

Grelland, H. (2006). The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis and the Meaning of Quantum Mechanics. AIP Conference Proceedings, 810(1), 325-329.

January, D. & Kako, E. (2007). Brief article: Re-evaluating evidence for linguistic relativity: Reply to Boroditsky (2001). In Cognition, 104(2), 417-426.

Koerner, E. K. (2002). Chapter 3: On the sources of the ‘Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.’. Toward A History of American Linguistics, 39-62.

Liang, H. (2011). The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis and Foreign Language Teaching and Learning. US-China Foreign Language, 9(9), 569-574.

Rączaszek-Leonardi, J. (2010). Multiple Time-Scales of Language Dynamics: An Example from Psycholinguistics. Ecological Psychology, 22(4), 269-285.

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IvyPanda. (2019, May 29). Whorf's linguistic relativity hypothesis. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/whorfs-linguistic-relativity-hypothesis-research-paper/

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1. IvyPanda. "Whorf's linguistic relativity hypothesis." May 29, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/whorfs-linguistic-relativity-hypothesis-research-paper/.


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IvyPanda. "Whorf's linguistic relativity hypothesis." May 29, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/whorfs-linguistic-relativity-hypothesis-research-paper/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Whorf's linguistic relativity hypothesis." May 29, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/whorfs-linguistic-relativity-hypothesis-research-paper/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Whorf's linguistic relativity hypothesis'. 29 May.

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