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Edward Sapir (1884 1939 ) German and Indo-European philology to descriptive Native American linguistics to psychological anthropology.

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Presentation on theme: "Edward Sapir (1884 1939 ) German and Indo-European philology to descriptive Native American linguistics to psychological anthropology."— Presentation transcript:

1 Edward Sapir ( ) German and Indo-European philology to descriptive Native American linguistics to psychological anthropology

2 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

3 Benjamin Lee Whorf ( ) Chemical engineer (MIT), fire insurance inspector, amateur linguist ciphers, classical languages to Mayan, anthropology, Hopi via Sapir

4 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)

5 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.

6 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

7 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

8 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:

9 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?

10 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

11 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

12 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.

13 Fig. 11overview.


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