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Re: [xmca] FW: NYTimes.com: Does Your Language Shape How You Think?
- To: Larry Purss <email@example.com>
- Subject: Re: [xmca] FW: NYTimes.com: Does Your Language Shape How You Think?
- From: mike cole <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Sat, 28 Aug 2010 16:14:16 -0700
- Cc: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <email@example.com>
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Opening with a hatchet job such as the following and ignoring a lot of
responsible research on the topic for a story in the NY Times I find
objectionable, Larry. mike
And yet Benjamin Lee Whorf let loose an alluring idea about language’s power
over the mind, and his stirring prose seduced a whole generation into
believing that our mother tongue restricts what we are able to think.
Horacio Salinas for The New York Times
In particular, Whorf announced, Native American languages impose on their
speakers a picture of reality that is totally different from ours, so their
speakers would simply not be able to understand some of our most basic
concepts, like the flow of time or the distinction between objects (like
“stone”) and actions (like “fall”). For decades, Whorf’s theory dazzled both
academics and the general public alike. In his shadow, others made a whole
range of imaginative claims about the supposed power of language, from the
assertion that Native American languages instill in their speakers an
intuitive understanding of Einstein’s concept of time as a fourth dimension
to the theory that the nature of the Jewish religion was determined by the
tense system of ancient Hebrew.
Eventually, Whorf’s theory crash-landed on hard facts and solid common
sense, when it transpired that there had never actually been any evidence to
support his fantastic claims.
On Sat, Aug 28, 2010 at 12:20 PM, Larry Purss <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> As my previous post mentioned this "pop psycholinquistics" way of
> explaining phenomena I found intriguing. What do you see as the fundamental
> error in this line of thinking.
> Specifically on the position he articulates on "orientation in space" and
> "landscapes" Do you question the basic premise that one cultural group could
> habitually orient by egocentric references to "my" body" while other
> cultural groups habitually orient by cardinal coordinates.
> If these "facts" can be empirically established then what would be a
> better, more coherent way to explain these habitual ways of responding to
> On Sat, Aug 28, 2010 at 10:40 AM, mike cole <email@example.com> wrote:
>> Peter-- This article seemed like pop psycholinguistics to me. The "trauma"
>> of whorf?
>> There is a lot of work, call it "neo-whorfian" on relations between
>> and thought. The recent writings of John Lucy come to mind, but many
>> as well.
>> On Sat, Aug 28, 2010 at 6:16 AM, smago <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
>> > _______________________________________________
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