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Language and Thought.

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Presentation on theme: "Language and Thought."— Presentation transcript:

1 Language and Thought

2 The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis
According to Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, all higher levels of thinking are dependent on language. Language determines thought.

3 This strong notion is also called linguistic determinism.

4 The hypothesis also holds that because languages differ in many ways, speakers of different languages perceive and experience the world differently, relative to their linguistic back­ground, hence the notion of linguistic relativism.

5 According to the strong version of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, there is no real translation.

6 and it is impossible to learn the language of a different culture unless the learner abandons his or her own mode of thinking and acquires the thought patterns of the native speakers of the target language.

7 Arguments against the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis
Language can not determine thinking. The relation between linguistic forms and their referents is a matter of convention. There is no inherent or logic connection between language forms and what these language forms represent.

8 Although languages may differ in their surface structures, all languages are fundamentally of the same universal human character.

9 Words and meaning The relationship between the name and the meaning of a word is quite arbitrary. Labeling a natural phenomenon or an object is not fundamental to a conceptual system.

10 The speakers of one language with only one lexicalized word for a specific concept such as “snow” do not mean that they are poorer in distinguishing between different kinds of, say, snow than the speakers of a language with many different lexicalized words for “snow”.

11 The speakers of a language with no lexicalized word for “snow” does not mean that they can not grasp the concept of “snow.”

12 It is generally believed that words are but meaningless labels
It is generally believed that words are but meaningless labels. Their meanings of depend largely on the communicative context. As the context of a word or a sentence changes, its effect and meaning also change.

13 Grammatical structure
The differences in grammatical structures of languages are not directly related to the differences in the perceptual system of the speakers of these languages. Language structures and perceptual systems are not closely interdependent.

14 Language differences are mainly differences in surface structures
Language differences are mainly differences in surface structures. For example, English indicates the third person singular number by adding the morphological element “-(e)s” to the end of a verb.

15 The lack of this morphological indication of the third person singular number in Chinese does not mean that the Chinese speakers can not understand and master the concept of the third person singular number.

16 Translation If language could determine thought and language differences were the differences of conceptual systems, then translation would not be possible.

17 The fact that the conceptual uniqueness of a language such as Hopi, which is radically different from English, can be explained in English shows that language can not determine thinking.

18 While we say that language can not determine thinking, we do not mean that language differences have no effect on conceptual differences. But the conceptual differences because of different languages are not such that mutual comprehension is impossible.

19 Second language acquisition
Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is also challenged by observations of second language acquisition (SLA). If the differences in languages were the differences of conceptual systems, then second language acquisition would be impossible.

20 That fact that a person can master two, even more than two radically different languages shows that language differences can not represent different conceptual systems.

21 Language and world views
Language is only the medium by which world views are expressed. The language system is not inherently related to world views.

22 The speakers with the same native language do not necessarily possess the same world views, while the speakers of different languages may share the same world views.

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