Presentation on theme: "Edward Sapir (1884 1939 ) German and Indo-European philology to descriptive Native American linguistics to psychological anthropology."— Presentation transcript:
Edward Sapir ( ) German and Indo-European philology to descriptive Native American linguistics to psychological anthropology
Sapir, The Status of Linguistics as a Science Humans are at the mercy of the language they speak No two languages are exactly the same in the way they provide speakers with unconscious categories Language is a guide to social reality All human behavior is symbolic Language is a key to analysis of unconscious symbols
Benjamin Lee Whorf ( ) Chemical engineer (MIT), fire insurance inspector, amateur linguist ciphers, classical languages to Mayan, anthropology, Hopi via Sapir
Languages in cultures Language as form: Linguistic elements can be studied as contrasting and complementary forms. Examination of their arrangement, rules for combination, generating surface structure. (Bloomfield, Chomsky) Language as action: People say things and mean something. They do things with words. Language is more than communication, it is also understanding the world, creating the world. (Sapir, Whorf, Hymes)
Wilhelm von Humboldt ( ) Language as Weltanschaung (worldview) Each tongue draws a circle about the people to whom it belongs, and it is possible to leave this circle only by simultaneously entering that of another people. but one always caries over into a foreign tongue to a greater or lesser degree ones own cosmic viewpoint indeed ones personal linguistic pattern.
Linguistic Relativity The categories and types that we isolate from the world of phenomena we do not find there because they stare every observer in the face; on the contrary, the world is presented in a kaleidoscopic flux of impressions which has to be organized by our mindsand this means largely by the linguistic systems in our minds. (213) – B. L. Whorf
Vocabulary and Classification Basic/primary colour terms: blue, green, yellow, orange, red, white, black Daribi: huzhuku - dark mama - light Russian: goluboy - sky blue siniy - blue, dark blue Derivative colour terms: violet, aqua, turquoise
Two colour terms: white and black (light & dark) Three: red, white, black Four: yellow or green, red, white, black Five: yellow, green, red, white, black Six: blue, yellow, green, red, white, black Seven: brown, blue, yellow, green, red, white, black Eight +: purple/pink/orange/grey + above Colour terms Red is red in nearly any language:
Eskimo words for snow Boas Introduction to HAIL (1911: 21-22) : aput - snow on the ground qana - falling snow piqsirpoq - drifting snow qimuqsuq - snowdrift Whorf : English one word (snow) | Eskimo - three words We have the same word for falling snow, snow on the ground, snow packed hard like ice, slushy snow, wind-driven flying snow … To an Eskimo, this all-inclusive word would be almost unthinkable … he uses different words for them and for other kinds of snow. So what?
SAE Objectification John Locke ( ) An Essay Concerning Human Understanding Idea = the object of the understanding when a man thinks All ideas come from sensation or reflection Most important simple idea is solidity
Form and Content SAE dualities - body and soul The form (shape, structure, appearance) can be separated from the content (material, essence, nature) of the thing. Hopi people dont make a necessary distinction between form and content, dont rely on objects in space as a primary metaphor for time, person, other qualities
Trains moving really fast Single constant = speed of light (c) Train A: moving at 1/2c Train B moving at 3/4c From Train A, it looks like the clocks in Train B are running slower and their meter stick is shorter.