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Strong and weak versions of sapir-whorf hypothesis.
Iaroslav Wise ♦ September 25, 2013 ♦ 6 Comments
The ability of people to learn and to speak multiple languages casts doubt on the strong version of the theory, since a person may learn many different languages, but this does not change the way he/she thinks. Therefore, the strong version of Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is refuted by the greater majority of linguists and anthropologists.
Although criticized by formalists (e.g. Berlin & Kay, 1969) who argue that all languages share the same structure (hence, all people view the world identically, according to formalists), the weak Sapir-Whorf hypothesis still continues to interest scholars across many fields and disciplines including linguistics, anthropology, sociology, and psychology. Some scholars devised experiments in order to acquire empirical (i.e. based on an experiment) evidence concerning the hypothesis.
One of such experiments was devised and conducted by Kay and Kempton (1984). The scholars invited two groups of monolingual participants: 1) English speakers and 2) Tarahumara (a Uto-Aztecan language of northern Mexico) speakers. Unlike English, Tarahumara does not have separate words to differentiate between “green” and “blue” – Tarahumara has one word “ siyóname ” which means “green or blue”.
Both groups of participants were presented with several chips of different colours: a) green, b) light blue, and c) dark blue. The results of the experiment showed that in 29/30 cases, the English-speaking participants sorted the chips based on their colour (relying, thus, on the categories established in their language). The Tarahumara speakers, in turn, who do not have such categories in their language demonstrated almost perfect 50%/50% split in choosing an odd chip. These results affirm the theory of linguistic relativity since language has been shown to influence the participants’ behaviour.
It is worth mentioning that neither Sapir nor Whorf suggested the distinction between the strong and weak versions of the theory of linguistic relativity. Both Sapir and Whorf were critical of any endeavours to overemphasize the role of language in thought or non-linguistic behaviour characteristic of the strong version of the hypothesis.
In sum, this post has briefly addressed the distinction between the weak and strong versions of the theory of linguistic relativity. An experiment has been discussed in this relation which confirms the weak version of the hypothesis suggesting that the language(s) we speak may contribute to the way we behave, however, do(es) not determine it as Sapir and Whorf have pointed out.
Similar posts: 1) Theory of linguistic relativity (Sapir-Whorf hypothesis) 2) The theory of linguistic relativity from the historical perspective
References Berlin, B., & Kay, P. (1969). Basic Color Terms: Their Universality and Evolution . Berkeley: University of California Press. Kay, P., and Kempton, W. (1984). What is the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis? American Anthropologist, 86, 65-78. Iaroslav
- Posted in: Theory of Linguistic Relativity
- Tagged: definition , experiment , Sapir , Whorf
The Czech language has a proverb which reads “ Kolik jazyků znáš, tolikrát jsi člověkem ” (As many languages you know, as many times you are a person). Does it confirm the strong version of Sapir-Whorf hypothesis? Why?
- THE STRONG AND THE WEAK WHORFIAN HYPOTHESIS. | Pater Familias
- The theory of linguistic relativity from the historical perspective | BLOG|ON|LINGUISTICS
- Theory of linguistic relativity (Sapir-Whorf hypothesis) | BLOG|ON|LINGUISTICS
- Linguistic Relativity | The Delta
- Linguistic Relativity | The DeltΔ
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Author and astrophysicist, weak forms and strong forms.
For Cameron Neylon, because he kept asking me for this…
The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis 1 states that language affects thought — how we speak influences how we think. Or, at least, that’s one form of the hypothesis, the weak form. The strong form of Sapir-Whorf says that language determines thought, that how we speak forms a hard boundary on how and what we think. The weak form of Sapir-Whorf says that we drive an ATV across the terrain of thought; language can smooth the path in some areas and create rocks and roadblocks in others, but it doesn’t fundamentally limit where we can go. The strong form, in contrast, says we drive a steam train of thought, and language lays down the rails. There’s an intricate maze of forks and switchbacks spanning the continent, but at the end of the day we can only go where the rails will take us — we can’t lay down new track, no matter how we might try.
Most linguists today accept that some form of the weak Sapir-Whorf hypothesis must be true: the language(s) we speak definitely affect how we think and act. But most linguists also accept that the strong Sapir-Whorf hypothesis can’t be true, just as a matter of empirical fact. New words are developed, new concepts formed, new trails blazed on the terrain of thought. Some tasks may be easier or harder depending on whether your language is particularly suited for them — though even this is in dispute . But it’s simply not the case that we can’t think about things if we don’t have the words for them, nor that language actually determines our thought. In short, while the weak form of Sapir-Whorf is probably correct, the strong form is wrong. And this makes some sense: it certainly seems like language affects our thoughts, but it doesn’t seem like language wholly determines our thoughts.
But the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis isn’t the only theory with strong and weak forms — in fact, there’s a whole pattern of theories like this, and associated rhetorical dangers that go along with them. The pattern looks like this:
- Start with a general theoretical statement about the world, where…
- …there are two forms, a weak form and a strong form, and…
- …the weak form is obviously true — how could it not be? — and…
- …the strong form is obviously false, or at least much more controversial. Then, the rhetorical danger rears its head, and…
- …arguments for the (true) weak form are appropriated, unmodified or nearly so, as arguments for the strong form by the proponents of the latter. (You also sometimes see this in reverse: people who are eager to deny the strong form rejecting valid arguments for the weak form.)
I don’t know why (5) happens, but I suspect (with little to no proof) that this confusion stems from rejection of a naive view of the world. Say you start with a cartoonishly simple picture of some phenomenon — for example, say you believe that thought isn’t affected by language in any way at all. Then you hear (good!) arguments for the weak form of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which shows this cartoon picture is too simple to capture reality. With your anchor line to your old idea cut, you veer to the strong form of Sapir-Whorf. Then, later, when arguing for your new view, you use the same arguments that convinced you your old naive idea was false — namely, arguments for the weak form. (This also suggests that when (5) happens in reverse, this is founded in the same basic confusion: people defend themselves from the strong form by attacking the weak form because they would feel unmoored from their (naive) views if the weak form were true.) But why this happens is all speculation on my part. All I know for sure is that it does happen.
Cultural relativism about scientific truth is another good example. The two forms look something like this:
Weak form : Human factors like culture, history, and economics influence the practice of science, and thereby the content of our scientific theories.
Strong form : Human factors like culture, history, and economics wholly determine the content of our scientific theories.
It’s hard to see how the weak form could be wrong. Science is a human activity, and like any human activity, it’s affected by culture, economics, history, and other human factors. But the strong form claims that science is totally disconnected from anything like a “real world,” is simply manufactured by a variety of cultural and social forces, and has no special claim to truth. This is just not true. In her excellent book Brain Storm — itself about how the weak form of this thesis has played out in the spurious science of innate gender differences in the development of the human brain — Rebecca Jordan-Young forcefully rejects the strong form of relativism about science, and addresses both directions of the rhetorical confusion that arises from confounding the weak form with the strong:
The fact that science is not, and can never be, a simple mirror of the world also does not imply that science is simply “made up” and is not constrained by material phenomena that actually exist—the material world “pushes back” and exerts its own effects in science, even if we accept the postmodern premise that we humans have no hope of a direct access to that world that is unmediated by our own practices and culturally determined cognitive and linguistic structures. There is no need to dogmatically insist (against all evidence) that science really is objective in order to believe in science as a good and worthwhile endeavor, and even to believe in science as a particularly useful and trustworthy way of learning about the world. 2
Successful scientific theories, in general, must bear some resemblance to the world at large. Indeed, the success of scientific theories in predicting phenomena in the world would be nothing short of a miracle if there were absolutely no resemblance between the content of those theories and the content of the world. 3 That’s not to say that our theories are perfect representations of the world, nor that they are totally unaffected by cultural and political factors: far from it. I’m writing a book right now that’s (partly) about the cultural and historical factors influencing the debate on the foundations of quantum physics. But the content of our scientific theories is certainly not solely determined by human factors. Science is our best attempt to learn about the nature of the world. It’s not perfect. That’s OK.
There are many people, working largely in Continental philosophy and critical theory of various stripes, who advocate the strong form of relativism about science. 4 Yet most of their arguments which are ostensibly in favor of this strong form are actually arguments for the weak form: that culture plays some role in determining the content of our best scientific theories. 5 And that’s simply not the same thing.
Another, much more popular example of a strong and weak form problem is the set of claims around the “power of positive thinking.” The weak form suggests that being more confident and positive can make you happier, healthier, and more successful. This is usually true, and it’s hard to see how it couldn’t be usually true — though there are many specific counterexamples. For example, positive thinking can’t keep your house from being destroyed by a hurricane. Yet the strong form of positive-thinking claims — known as “the law of attraction,” and popularized by The Secret — suggests exactly that. This states that positive thinking, and positive thinking alone, can literally change the world around you for the better, preventing and reversing all bad luck and hardship. 6 Not only is this manifestly untrue, but the logical implications are morally repugnant: if bad things do happen to you, it must be a result of not thinking positively enough . For example, if you have cancer, and it’s resistant to treatment, that must be your fault . While this kind of neo-Calvinist victim-blaming is bad enough, it becomes truly monstrous — and the flaw in the reasoning particularly apparent — when extended from unfortunate individual circumstances to systematically disadvantaged groups. The ultimate responsibility for slavery, colonialism, genocide, and institutionalized bigotry quite obviously does not lie with the victims’ purported inability to wish hard enough for a better world.
In short, easily-confused strong and weak forms of a theory abound. I’m not claiming that this is anything like an original idea. All I’m saying is that some theories come in strong and weak forms, that sometimes the weak forms are obviously true and the strong obviously false, and that in those cases, it’s easy to take rhetorical advantage (deliberately or not) of this confusion. You could argue that the weak form directly implies the strong form in some cases, and maybe it does. But that’s not generally true, and you have to do a lot of work to make that argument — work that often isn’t done.
Again, I strongly suspect other people have come up with this idea. When I’ve talked with people about this, they’ve generally picked it up very quickly and come up with examples I didn’t think of. This seems to be floating around. If someone has a good citation for it, I’d be immensely grateful.
Image credit: Zink Dawg at English Wikipedia , CC-BY 3.0. I was strongly tempted to use this image instead.
- This is apparently a historical misnomer, but we’ll ignore that for now. [ ↩ ]
- Rebecca M. Jordan-Young, in Brain Storm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences, Harvard University Press, 2011, pp. 299-300. Emphasis in the original. [ ↩ ]
- See J.J.C. Smart, Philosophy and Scientific Realism , and Hilary Putnam, Mathematics, Matter, and Method . [ ↩ ]
- Bruno Latour is the first name that comes to mind. [ ↩ ]
- See, for example, Kuhn, who even seems to have confused himself about whether he was advocating the strong or the weak version. [ ↩ ]
- The “arguments” in favor of this kind of nonsense take advantage of more than just the confusion between the strong and weak forms of the thesis about positive thinking. They also rely on profound misunderstandings about quantum physics and other perversions of science. But let’s put that aside for now. [ ↩ ]
One thought on “ weak forms and strong forms ”.
There’s Occam’s Rusty Razor at work. Weak versions of theories necessitate lots of conditionals. Simpler just to eschew all conditionals. But simplicity itself is a virtue only with lots of subtlety and conditionality. Rusty razors butcher. Eschew Occam’s Rusty Razor.
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Supplement to Philosophy of Linguistics
Emergentists tend to follow Edward Sapir in taking an interest in interlinguistic and intralinguistic variation. Linguistic anthropologists have explicitly taken up the task of defending a famous claim associated with Sapir that connects linguistic variation to differences in thinking and cognition more generally. The claim is very often referred to as the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis (though this is a largely infelicitous label, as we shall see).
This topic is closely related to various forms of relativism—epistemological, ontological, conceptual, and moral—and its general outlines are discussed elsewhere in this encyclopedia; see the section on language in the Summer 2015 archived version of the entry on relativism (§3.1). Cultural versions of moral relativism suggest that, given how much cultures differ, what is moral for you might depend on the culture you were brought up in. A somewhat analogous view would suggest that, given how much language structures differ, what is thinkable for you might depend on the language you use. (This is actually a kind of conceptual relativism, but it is generally called linguistic relativism, and we will continue that practice.)
Even a brief skim of the vast literature on the topic is not remotely plausible in this article; and the primary literature is in any case more often polemical than enlightening. It certainly holds no general answer to what science has discovered about the influences of language on thought. Here we offer just a limited discussion of the alleged hypothesis and the rhetoric used in discussing it, the vapid and not so vapid forms it takes, and the prospects for actually devising testable scientific hypotheses about the influence of language on thought.
Whorf himself did not offer a hypothesis. He presented his “new principle of linguistic relativity” (Whorf 1956: 214) as a fact discovered by linguistic analysis:
When linguists became able to examine critically and scientifically a large number of languages of widely different patterns, their base of reference was expanded; they experienced an interruption of phenomena hitherto held universal, and a whole new order of significances came into their ken. It was found that the background linguistic system (in other words, the grammar) of each language is not merely a reproducing instrument for voicing ideas but rather is itself the shaper of ideas, the program and guide for the individual’s mental activity, for his analysis of impressions, for his synthesis of his mental stock in trade. Formulation of ideas is not an independent process, strictly rational in the old sense, but is part of a particular grammar, and differs, from slightly to greatly, between different grammars. We dissect nature along lines laid down by our native languages. 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 minds—and this means largely by the linguistic systems in our minds. We cut nature up, organize it into concepts, and ascribe significances as we do, largely because we are parties to an agreement to organize it in this way—an agreement that holds throughout our speech community and is codified in the patterns of our language. The agreement is, of course, an implicit and unstated one, but its terms are absolutely obligatory ; we cannot talk at all except by subscribing to the organization and classification of data which the agreement decrees. (Whorf 1956: 212–214; emphasis in original)
Later, Whorf’s speculations about the “sensuously and operationally different” character of different snow types for “an Eskimo” (Whorf 1956: 216) developed into a familiar journalistic meme about the Inuit having dozens or scores or hundreds of words for snow; but few who repeat that urban legend recall Whorf’s emphasis on its being grammar, rather than lexicon, that cuts up and organizes nature for us.
In an article written in 1937, posthumously published in an academic journal (Whorf 1956: 87–101), Whorf clarifies what is most important about the effects of language on thought and world-view. He distinguishes ‘phenotypes’, which are overt grammatical categories typically indicated by morphemic markers, from what he called ‘cryptotypes’, which are covert grammatical categories, marked only implicitly by distributional patterns in a language that are not immediately apparent. In English, the past tense would be an example of a phenotype (it is marked by the - ed suffix in all regular verbs). Gender in personal names and common nouns would be an example of a cryptotype, not systematically marked by anything. In a cryptotype, “class membership of the word is not apparent until there is a question of using it or referring to it in one of these special types of sentence, and then we find that this word belongs to a class requiring some sort of distinctive treatment, which may even be the negative treatment of excluding that type of sentence” (p. 89).
Whorf’s point is the familiar one that linguistic structure is comprised, in part, of distributional patterns in language use that are not explicitly marked. What follows from this, according to Whorf, is not that the existing lexemes in a language (like its words for snow) comprise covert linguistic structure, but that patterns shared by word classes constitute linguistic structure. In ‘Language, mind, and reality’ (1942; published posthumously in Theosophist , a magazine published in India for the followers of the 19th-century spiritualist Helena Blavatsky) he wrote:
Because of the systematic, configurative nature of higher mind, the “patternment” aspect of language always overrides and controls the “lexation”…or name-giving aspect. Hence the meanings of specific words are less important than we fondly fancy. Sentences, not words, are the essence of speech, just as equations and functions, and not bare numbers, are the real meat of mathematics. We are all mistaken in our common belief that any word has an “exact meaning.” We have seen that the higher mind deals in symbols that have no fixed reference to anything, but are like blank checks, to be filled in as required, that stand for “any value” of a given variable, like …the x , y , z of algebra. (Whorf 1942: 258)
Whorf apparently thought that only personal and proper names have an exact meaning or reference (Whorf 1956: 259).
For Whorf, it was an unquestionable fact that language influences thought to some degree:
Actually, thinking is most mysterious, and by far the greatest light upon it that we have is thrown by the study of language. This study shows that the forms of a person’s thoughts are controlled by inexorable laws of pattern of which he is unconscious. These patterns are the unperceived intricate systematizations of his own language—shown readily enough by a candid comparison and contrast with other languages, especially those of a different linguistic family. His thinking itself is in a language—in English, in Sanskrit, in Chinese. [footnote omitted] And every language is a vast pattern-system, different from others, in which are culturally ordained the forms and categories by which the personality not only communicates, but analyzes nature, notices or neglects types of relationship and phenomena, channels his reasoning, and builds the house of his consciousness. (Whorf 1956: 252)
He seems to regard it as necessarily true that language affects thought, given
- the fact that language must be used in order to think, and
- the facts about language structure that linguistic analysis discovers.
He also seems to presume that the only structure and logic that thought has is grammatical structure. These views are not the ones that after Whorf’s death came to be known as ‘the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis’ (a sobriquet due to Hoijer 1954). Nor are they what was called the ‘Whorf thesis’ by Brown and Lenneberg (1954) which was concerned with the relation of obligatory lexical distinctions and thought. Brown and Lenneberg (1954) investigated this question by looking at the relation of color terminology in a language and the classificatory abilities of the speakers of that language. The issue of the relation between obligatory lexical distinctions and thought is at the heart of what is now called ‘the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis’ or ‘the Whorf Hypothesis’ or ‘Whorfianism’.
1. Banal Whorfianism
No one is going to be impressed with a claim that some aspect of your language may affect how you think in some way or other; that is neither a philosophical thesis nor a psychological hypothesis. So it is appropriate to set aside entirely the kind of so-called hypotheses that Steven Pinker presents in The Stuff of Thought (2007: 126–128) as “five banal versions of the Whorfian hypothesis”:
- “Language affects thought because we get much of our knowledge through reading and conversation.”
- “A sentence can frame an event, affecting the way people construe it.”
- “The stock of words in a language reflects the kinds of things its speakers deal with in their lives and hence think about.”
- “[I]f one uses the word language in a loose way to refer to meanings,… then language is thought.”
- “When people think about an entity, among the many attributes they can think about is its name.”
These are just truisms, unrelated to any serious issue about linguistic relativism.
We should also set aside some methodological versions of linguistic relativism discussed in anthropology. It may be excellent advice to a budding anthropologist to be aware of linguistic diversity, and to be on the lookout for ways in which your language may affect your judgment of other cultures; but such advice does not constitute a hypothesis.
2. The so-called Sapir-Whorf hypothesis
The term “Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis” was coined by Harry Hoijer in his contribution (Hoijer 1954) to a conference on the work of Benjamin Lee Whorf in 1953. But anyone looking in Hoijer’s paper for a clear statement of the hypothesis will look in vain. Curiously, despite his stated intent “to review and clarify the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis” (1954: 93), Hoijer did not even attempt to state it. The closest he came was this:
The central idea of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is that language functions, not simply as a device for reporting experience, but also, and more significantly, as a way of defining experience for its speakers.
The claim that “language functions…as a way of defining experience” appears to be offered as a kind of vague metaphysical insight rather than either a statement of linguistic relativism or a testable hypothesis.
And if Hoijer seriously meant that what qualitative experiences a speaker can have are constituted by that speaker’s language, then surely the claim is false. There is no reason to doubt that non-linguistic sentient creatures like cats can experience (for example) pain or heat or hunger, so having a language is not a necessary condition for having experiences. And it is surely not sufficient either: a robot with a sophisticated natural language processing capacity could be designed without the capacity for conscious experience.
In short, it is a mystery what Hoijer meant by his “central idea”.
Vague remarks of the same loosely metaphysical sort have continued to be a feature of the literature down to the present. The statements made in some recent papers, even in respected refereed journals, contain non-sequiturs echoing some of the remarks of Sapir, Whorf, and Hoijer. And they come from both sides of the debate.
3. Anti-Whorfian rhetoric
Lila Gleitman is an Essentialist on the other side of the contemporary debate: she is against linguistic relativism, and against the broadly Whorfian work of Stephen Levinson’s group at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. In the context of criticizing a particular research design, Li and Gleitman (2002) quote Whorf’s claim that “language is the factor that limits free plasticity and rigidifies channels of development”. But in the claim cited, Whorf seems to be talking about the psychological topic that holds universally of human conceptual development, not claiming that linguistic relativism is true.
Li and Gleitman then claim (p. 266) that such (Whorfian) views “have diminished considerably in academic favor” in part because of “the universalist position of Chomskian linguistics, with its potential for explaining the striking similarity of language learning in children all over the world.” But there is no clear conflict or even a conceptual connection between Whorf’s views about language placing limits on developmental plasticity, and Chomsky’s thesis of an innate universal architecture for syntax. In short, there is no reason why Chomsky’s I-languages could not be innately constrained, but (once acquired) cognitively and developmentally constraining.
For example, the supposedly deep linguistic universal of ‘recursion’ (Hauser et al. 2002) is surely quite independent of whether the inventory of colour-name lexemes in your language influences the speed with which you can discriminate between color chips. And conversely, universal tendencies in color naming across languages (Kay and Regier 2006) do not show that color-naming differences among languages are without effect on categorical perception (Thierry et al. 2009).
4. Strong and weak Whorfianism
One of the first linguists to defend a general form of universalism against linguistic relativism, thus presupposing that they conflict, was Julia Penn (1972). She was also an early popularizer of the distinction between ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ formulations of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis (and an opponent of the ‘strong’ version).
‘Weak’ versions of Whorfianism state that language influences or defeasibly shapes thought. ‘Strong’ versions state that language determines thought, or fixes it in some way. The weak versions are commonly dismissed as banal (because of course there must be some influence), and the stronger versions as implausible.
The weak versions are considered banal because they are not adequately formulated as testable hypotheses that could conflict with relevant evidence about language and thought.
Why would the strong versions be thought implausible? For a language to make us think in a particular way, it might seem that it must at least temporarily prevent us from thinking in other ways, and thus make some thoughts not only inexpressible but unthinkable. If this were true, then strong Whorfianism would conflict with the Katzian effability claim. There would be thoughts that a person couldn’t think because of the language(s) they speak.
Some are fascinated by the idea that there are inaccessible thoughts; and the notion that learning a new language gives access to entirely new thoughts and concepts seems to be a staple of popular writing about the virtues of learning languages. But many scientists and philosophers intuitively rebel against violations of effability: thinking about concepts that no one has yet named is part of their job description.
The resolution lies in seeing that the language could affect certain aspects of our cognitive functioning without making certain thoughts unthinkable for us .
For example, Greek has separate terms for what we call light blue and dark blue, and no word meaning what ‘blue’ means in English: Greek forces a choice on this distinction. Experiments have shown (Thierry et al. 2009) that native speakers of Greek react faster when categorizing light blue and dark blue color chips—apparently a genuine effect of language on thought. But that does not make English speakers blind to the distinction, or imply that Greek speakers cannot grasp the idea of a hue falling somewhere between green and violet in the spectrum.
There is no general or global ineffability problem. There is, though, a peculiar aspect of strong Whorfian claims, giving them a local analog of ineffability: the content of such a claim cannot be expressed in any language it is true of . This does not make the claims self-undermining (as with the standard objections to relativism); it doesn’t even mean that they are untestable. They are somewhat anomalous, but nothing follows concerning the speakers of the language in question (except that they cannot state the hypothesis using the basic vocabulary and grammar that they ordinarily use).
If there were a true hypothesis about the limits that basic English vocabulary and constructions puts on what English speakers can think, the hypothesis would turn out to be inexpressible in English, using basic vocabulary and the usual repertoire of constructions. That might mean it would be hard for us to discuss it in an article in English unless we used terminological innovations or syntactic workarounds. But that doesn’t imply anything about English speakers’ ability to grasp concepts, or to develop new ways of expressing them by coining new words or elaborated syntax.
5. Constructing and evaluating Whorfian hypotheses
A number of considerations are relevant to formulating, testing, and evaluating Whorfian hypotheses.
Genuine hypotheses about the effects of language on thought will always have a duality: there will be a linguistic part and a non-linguistic one. The linguistic part will involve a claim that some feature is present in one language but absent in another.
Whorf himself saw that it was only obligatory features of languages that established “mental patterns” or “habitual thought” (Whorf 1956: 139), since if it were optional then the speaker could optionally do it one way or do it the other way. And so this would not be a case of “constraining the conceptual structure”. So we will likewise restrict our attention to obligatory features here.
Examples of relevant obligatory features would include lexical distinctions like the light vs. dark blue forced choice in Greek, or the forced choice between “in (fitting tightly)” vs. “in (fitting loosely)” in Korean. They also include grammatical distinctions like the forced choice in Spanish 2nd-person pronouns between informal/intimate and formal/distant (informal tú vs. formal usted in the singular; informal vosotros vs. formal ustedes in the plural), or the forced choice in Tamil 1st-person plural pronouns between inclusive (“we = me and you and perhaps others”) and exclusive (“we = me and others not including you”).
The non-linguistic part of a Whorfian hypothesis will contrast the psychological effects that habitually using the two languages has on their speakers. For example, one might conjecture that the habitual use of Spanish induces its speakers to be sensitive to the formal and informal character of the speaker’s relationship with their interlocutor while habitually using English does not.
So testing Whorfian hypotheses requires testing two independent hypotheses with the appropriate kinds of data. In consequence, evaluating them requires the expertise of both linguistics and psychology, and is a multidisciplinary enterprise. Clearly, the linguistic hypothesis may hold up where the psychological hypothesis does not, or conversely.
In addition, if linguists discovered that some linguistic feature was optional in two different languages, then even if psychological experiments showed differences between the two populations of speakers, this would not show linguistic determination or influence. The cognitive differences might depend on (say) cultural differences.
A further important consideration concerns the strength of the inducement relationship that a Whorfian hypothesis posits between a speaker’s language and their non-linguistic capacities. The claim that your language shapes or influences your cognition is quite different from the claim that your language makes certain kinds of cognition impossible (or obligatory) for you. The strength of any Whorfian hypothesis will vary depending on the kind of relationship being claimed, and the ease of revisability of that relation.
A testable Whorfian hypothesis will have a schematic form something like this:
- Linguistic part : Feature F is obligatory in L 1 but optional in L 2 .
- Psychological part : Speaking a language with obligatory feature F bears relation R to the cognitive effect C .
The relation R might in principle be causation or determination, but it is important to see that it might merely be correlation, or slight favoring; and the non-linguistic cognitive effect C might be readily suppressible or revisable.
Dan Slobin (1996) presents a view that competes with Whorfian hypotheses as standardly understood. He hypothesizes that when the speakers are using their cognitive abilities in the service of a linguistic ability (speaking, writing, translating, etc.), the language they are planning to use to express their thought will have a temporary online effect on how they express their thought. The claim is that as long as language users are thinking in order to frame their speech or writing or translation in some language, the mandatory features of that language will influence the way they think.
On Slobin’s view, these effects quickly attenuate as soon as the activity of thinking for speaking ends. For example, if a speaker is thinking for writing in Spanish, then Slobin’s hypothesis would predict that given the obligatory formal/informal 2nd-person pronoun distinction they would pay greater attention to the formal/informal character of their social relationships with their audience than if they were writing in English. But this effect is not permanent. As soon as they stop thinking for speaking, the effect of Spanish on their thought ends.
Slobin’s non-Whorfian linguistic relativist hypothesis raises the importance of psychological research on bilinguals or people who currently use two or more languages with a native or near-native facility. This is because one clear way to test Slobin-like hypotheses relative to Whorfian hypotheses would be to find out whether language correlated non-linguistic cognitive differences between speakers hold for bilinguals only when are thinking for speaking in one language, but not when they are thinking for speaking in some other language. If the relevant cognitive differences appeared and disappeared depending on which language speakers were planning to express themselves in, it would go some way to vindicate Slobin-like hypotheses over more traditional Whorfian Hypotheses. Of course, one could alternately accept a broadening of Whorfian hypotheses to include Slobin-like evanescent effects. Either way, attention must be paid to the persistence and revisability of the linguistic effects.
Kousta et al. (2008) shows that “for bilinguals there is intraspeaker relativity in semantic representations and, therefore, [grammatical] gender does not have a conceptual, non-linguistic effect” (843). Grammatical gender is obligatory in the languages in which it occurs and has been claimed by Whorfians to have persistent and enduring non-linguistic effects on representations of objects (Boroditsky et al. 2003). However, Kousta et al. supports the claim that bilinguals’ semantic representations vary depending on which language they are using, and thus have transient effects. This suggests that although some semantic representations of objects may vary from language to language, their non-linguistic cognitive effects are transitory.
Some advocates of Whorfianism have held that if Whorfian hypotheses were true, then meaning would be globally and radically indeterminate. Thus, the truth of Whorfian hypotheses is equated with global linguistic relativism—a well known self-undermining form of relativism. But as we have seen, not all Whorfian hypotheses are global hypotheses: they are about what is induced by particular linguistic features. And the associated non-linguistic perceptual and cognitive differences can be quite small, perhaps insignificant. For example, Thierry et al. (2009) provides evidence that an obligatory lexical distinction between light and dark blue affects Greek speakers’ color perception in the left hemisphere only. And the question of the degree to which this affects sensuous experience is not addressed.
The fact that Whorfian hypotheses need not be global linguistic relativist hypotheses means that they do not conflict with the claim that there are language universals. Structuralists of the first half of the 20th century tended to disfavor the idea of universals: Martin Joos’s characterization of structuralist linguistics as claiming that “languages can differ without limit as to either extent or direction” (Joos 1966, 228) has been much quoted in this connection. If the claim that languages can vary without limit were conjoined with the claim that languages have significant and permanent effects on the concepts and worldview of their speakers, a truly profound global linguistic relativism would result. But neither conjunct should be accepted. Joos’s remark is regarded by nearly all linguists today as overstated (and merely a caricature of the structuralists), and Whorfian hypotheses do not have to take a global or deterministic form.
John Lucy, a conscientious and conservative researcher of Whorfian hypotheses, has remarked:
We still know little about the connections between particular language patterns and mental life—let alone how they operate or how significant they are…a mere handful of empirical studies address the linguistic relativity proposal directly and nearly all are conceptually flawed. (Lucy 1996, 37)
Although further empirical studies on Whorfian hypotheses have been completed since Lucy published his 1996 review article, it is hard to find any that have satisfied the criteria of:
- adequately utilizing both the relevant linguistic and psychological research,
- focusing on obligatory rather than optional linguistic features,
- stating hypotheses in a clear testable way, and
- ruling out relevant competing Slobin-like hypotheses.
There is much important work yet to be done on testing the range of Whorfian hypotheses and other forms of linguistic conceptual relativism, and on understanding the significance of any Whorfian hypotheses that turn out to be well supported.
Copyright © 2022 by Barbara C. Scholz Francis Jeffry Pelletier < francisp @ ualberta . ca > Geoffrey K. Pullum < gpullum @ ed . ac . uk > Ryan Nefdt < ryan . nefdt @ uct . ac . za >
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Strong form, the bottom line.
- Trading Strategies
The Weak, Strong, and Semi-Strong Efficient Market Hypotheses
Learn about the three versions of the efficient market hypothesis
J.B. Maverick is an active trader, commodity futures broker, and stock market analyst 17+ years of experience, in addition to 10+ years of experience as a finance writer and book editor.
The efficient market hypothesis (EMH), as a whole, theorizes that the market is generally efficient, but the theory is offered in three different versions: weak, semi-strong, and strong.
The basic efficient market hypothesis posits that the market cannot be beaten because it incorporates all important determining information into current share prices . Therefore, stocks trade at the fairest value, meaning that they can't be purchased undervalued or sold overvalued .
The theory determines that the only opportunity investors have to gain higher returns on their investments is through purely speculative investments that pose a substantial risk.
- The efficient market hypothesis posits that the market cannot be beaten because it incorporates all important information into current share prices, so stocks trade at the fairest value.
- Though the efficient market hypothesis theorizes the market is generally efficient, the theory is offered in three different versions: weak, semi-strong, and strong.
- The weak form suggests today’s stock prices reflect all the data of past prices and that no form of technical analysis can aid investors.
- The semi-strong form submits that because public information is part of a stock's current price, investors cannot utilize either technical or fundamental analysis, though information not available to the public can help investors.
- The strong form version states that all information, public and not public, is completely accounted for in current stock prices, and no type of information can give an investor an advantage on the market.
The three versions of the efficient market hypothesis are varying degrees of the same basic theory. The weak form suggests that today’s stock prices reflect all the data of past prices and that no form of technical analysis can be effectively utilized to aid investors in making trading decisions.
Advocates for the weak form efficiency theory believe that if the fundamental analysis is used, undervalued and overvalued stocks can be determined, and investors can research companies' financial statements to increase their chances of making higher-than-market-average profits.
The semi-strong form efficiency theory follows the belief that because all information that is public is used in the calculation of a stock's current price , investors cannot utilize either technical or fundamental analysis to gain higher returns in the market.
Those who subscribe to this version of the theory believe that only information that is not readily available to the public can help investors boost their returns to a performance level above that of the general market.
The strong form version of the efficient market hypothesis states that all information—both the information available to the public and any information not publicly known—is completely accounted for in current stock prices, and there is no type of information that can give an investor an advantage on the market.
Advocates for this degree of the theory suggest that investors cannot make returns on investments that exceed normal market returns, regardless of information retrieved or research conducted.
There are anomalies that the efficient market theory cannot explain and that may even flatly contradict the theory. For example, the price/earnings (P/E) ratio shows that firms trading at lower P/E multiples are often responsible for generating higher returns.
The neglected firm effect suggests that companies that are not covered extensively by market analysts are sometimes priced incorrectly in relation to their true value and offer investors the opportunity to pick stocks with hidden potential. The January effect shows historical evidence that stock prices—especially smaller cap stocks—tend to experience an upsurge in January.
Though the efficient market hypothesis is an important pillar of modern financial theories and has a large backing, primarily in the academic community, it also has a large number of critics. The theory remains controversial, and investors continue attempting to outperform market averages with their stock selections.
Due to the empirical presence of market anomalies and information asymmetries, many practitioners do not believe that the efficient markets hypothesis holds in reality, except, perhaps, in the weak form.
What Is the Importance of the Efficient Market Hypothesis?
The efficient market hypothesis (EMH) is important because it implies that free markets are able to optimally allocate and distribute goods, services, capital, or labor (depending on what the market is for), without the need for central planning, oversight, or government authority. The EMH suggests that prices reflect all available information and represent an equilibrium between supply (sellers/producers) and demand (buyers/consumers). One important implication is that it is impossible to "beat the market" since there are no abnormal profit opportunities in an efficient market.
What Are the 3 Forms of Market Efficiency?
The EMH has three forms. The strong form assumes that all past and current information in a market, whether public or private, is accounted for in prices. The semi-strong form assumes that only publicly-available information is incorporated into prices, but privately-held information may not be. The weak form concedes that markets tend to be efficient but anomalies can and do occur, which can be exploited (which tends to remove the anomaly, restoring efficiency via arbitrage ). In reality, only the weak form is thought to exist in most markets, if any.
How Would You Know If the Market Is Semi-Strong Form Efficient?
To test the semi-strong version of the EMH, one can see if a stock's price gaps up or down when previously private news is released. For instance, a proposed merger or dismal earnings announcement would be known by insiders but not the public. Therefore, this information is not correctly priced into the shares until it is made available. At that point, the stock may jump or slump, depending on the nature of the news, as investors and traders incorporate this new information.
The efficient market hypothesis exists in degrees, but each degree argues that financial markets are already too efficient for investors to consistently beat them. The idea is that the volume of activity within markets is so high that the value of resulting prices are as fair as can be. The weak form of the theory is the most lenient and concedes that there are circumstance when fundamental analysis can help investors find value. The strong form of the theory is the least lenient in this regard, while the semi-strong form of the theory holds a middle ground between the two.
Burton Gordon Malkiel. "A Random Walk Down Wall Street: The Time-tested Strategy for Successful Investing," W.W Norton & Company, 2007.
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The Whorf Hypothesis
The basic idea, theory, meet practice.
TDL is an applied research consultancy. In our work, we leverage the insights of diverse fields—from psychology and economics to machine learning and behavioral data science—to sculpt targeted solutions to nuanced problems.
If you’ve spent any amount of time online, you might have seen an article titled along the lines of “10 words we wish we had in English” – even major outlets like the BBC 1 and The Guardian 2 have indulged! The format is simple. The article lists 10 words, like sobremesa (Spanish for when you stay chatting in a restaurant for too long) or kummerspeck (German for the weight gain from emotional eating), and probably a few relatable, witty remarks. The article usually ends by mourning the lack of English translation.
As behavioral scientists, we might think to ask: Are there really untranslatable words? Are there certain thoughts you can only have in certain languages?
The “Whorf Hypothesis” (also known as the “Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis” or “Linguistic Relativism”) is an umbrella term for the claim that the language you speak determines or influences what you can think. If you speak English, there are certain thoughts you can have; if you speak Spanish or German, there are different thoughts you can have. Certain words are untranslatable because only certain languages can convey those thoughts.
Does the language we speak shape or determine what we can think? What is the relationship between language and thought?
The Strong Whorf Hypothesis : the claim that the language you speak determines which thoughts you can have.3 It is generally rejected by most linguists, psychologists, and cognitive scientists today .4,5, 6
The Weak Whorf Hypothesis : the claim that the language you speak influences , but does not determine, which thoughts you can have. 3 This is a claim currently being studied, and many behavioral scientists believe some form of it. 5,7,8
Nativism: The claim that language is largely an innate cognitive faculty, virtually identical across individuals and cultures. Versions of this claim have been defended by linguists like Noam Chomsky, 9 psychologists like Steven Pinker, 6 and philosophers like Jerry Fodor. 10
While some scholars argue that the Whorf hypothesis dates back to Aristotle’s Rhetoric or to German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz’s writings on language, we can safely start with Wilhelm von Humboldt, 11 an early 19th-century German linguist and political theorist. Before and during his fieldwork, Humboldt often wrote about the relationship between language and thought. To him, language was not merely the means through which we conveyed what was going on in our minds. Instead, the language established a worldview: languages were the means through which we understood ourselves and the world. 11
Humboldt’s ideas became influential in the late-19th century through the work of the German-trained Franz Boas: 11 a professor at Columbia and founder of the American Anthropological Association. 12 Boas’s work in linguistic anthropology (mainly on what we now call “Inuit languages”) followed Humboldt in arguing that different languages classify how we experience the world in different, subconscious ways. 11,13 Crucially, though, he did not think that language determines how we view the world. Instead, he thought that our languages’ grammatical categories reflect the ways our culture classifies the world. 13
Moving on to the early 20th century, one of Boas’s own students, Edward Sapir, would also be one of the main contributors to the development of the Whorf hypothesis. (This is why it is sometimes called the “Sapir-Whorf” hypothesis.) Sapir followed Boas in arguing that different languages classify how we experience the world, but he stressed that languages are complete systems, often untranslatable between each other. 13 He also pushed further than Boas: he thought that language was necessary for us to fully develop the ability to think because our ability to think arises from our ability to interpret the language we speak. 13 Different languages yield different interpretations, and those different interpretations place constraints on what we can think. 13
This progressive strengthening of Humboldt’s original idea was finalized by one of Sapir’s students, Benjamin Lee Whorf. 11 13 While not a professional linguist, Whorf was interested in documenting previous and current forms of the indigenous languages of North America, especially Nahuatl and Hopi. Whorf’s main contribution to the hypothesis was to point out that not all linguistic categories are overt; sometimes, a language encodes information implicitly . Whorf also accepted Sapir’s claim that languages place constraints on what we can think, based on the interpretations we give them. But because languages also marked things implicitly, these interpretations were widespread and pervasive — we didn’t have to actively use our language for us to be interpreting things through our language. As Whorf would put it:
“[…]users of markedly different grammars are pointed by their grammars toward different types of observations and different evaluations of externally similar acts of observation, and hence are not equivalent as observers but must arrive at somewhat different views of the world.” 15
In the 1960s and onwards, with the rise of nativism in linguistics — especially Chomsky’s theory of Universal Grammar — the Whorf hypothesis began to come under scrutiny. It was believed that languages were just too similar to yield the kinds of effects on the thought that Sapir and Whorf hypothesized. Further empirical work also showed that the Whorf hypothesis, in its strong form, was shown to be flawed: humans and other primates display the ability to think without language 5 , refuting Sapir and Whorf’s claim that we needed to interpret the language to be able to think.
However, researchers in the 1990s started studying whether language still influenced thought in any interesting ways. Among other things, behavioral scientists began looking at language’s effect on color perception, spatial cognition, and more. Many studies suggest that language does have some effect on which kinds of processing are easier for a speaker.16, 17 The research on these weaker versions of the Whorf hypothesis is still ongoing, but many behavioral scientists— even ones who reject the stronger forms— accept one version or another. 14
Wilhelm von Humboldt
Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767 – 1835) was a philosopher and political theorist who made great contributions to philosophy, linguistics, education, anthropology, and more. 18 Many theorists on language (including Boas, Sapir, Whorf, and, paradoxically enough, Chomksy) claim to have been influenced by his views. 18 In particular, Humboldt is often credited with arguing that a language’s grammar is best studied by looking at the forms and procedures it uses to generate actual speech, and for arguing that thought without language is impossible. 18
Franz Boas (1858 – 1942) is usually credited as the founder of the American anthropological tradition, and he is the founder of the American Anthropological Association. 19 His work focused on the indigenous languages in the United States, where he contributed to both our anthropological and linguistic understanding of them. 19 Additionally, Boas was also among the first white social scientists who argued that racial differences were due to historical events, not genetics; and that racial categories were themselves culturally constructed. 19
Edward Sapir (1884 – 1939) is often considered one of the most important figures in linguistics and anthropology in the United States. 20 He was the founder of “ethnolinguistics,” which focused on the relationship between language and culture, and he is often credited as a key developer of American structural linguistics. 20 His work focused on the indigenous languages of all of North America. 20
Benjamin Lee Whorf
Benjamin Lee Whorf (1897 – 1941) was an American linguist whose work, like that of his mentor Edward Sapir, focused on the indigenous languages of North America. 21 Whorf is most well-known due to his arguments in favor of linguistic relativity (which came to be known as “the Whorf hypothesis”), based on his work on Hopi and other indigenous languages. 21
Noam Chomsky (1928 – current) is an American linguist, political theorist, and cognitive scientist. 21 Chomsky’s 1959 review of B.F. Skinner’s Verbal Behavior is often credited as the moment of death for behaviorism. 21 Starting from the 60s and onward, Chomsky founded and contributed to the Generativist approach to linguistics, which holds that language is a separate cognitive faculty unique to humans, which children are born with and use to acquire their native language without much stimulus.21 He also argues that this linguistic faculty is universal: all humans are born with the same “Universal Grammar,” which allows them to learn language quickly and makes all human languages the same at bottom. 21 This approach to language remains standard and influential to this day, especially in theoretical syntax and semantics. 8,22
If true, the strong form of the Whorf hypothesis would have massive ripple effects on our understanding of how the human mind works. If the language we spoke determined the kinds of thoughts we could have, it would be incredibly hard to find any cognitive universals. Our world speaks over 6500 languages, so the strong Whorf hypothesis predicts that we would have radically different— and untranslatable— thoughts.
Thankfully for cognitive scientists worldwide, the strong form of the Whorf hypothesis has been falsified for decades. However, we might still ask: what about the consequences of the weak form?
The research is still ongoing, but one general trend is that the language we speak makes certain thoughts slightly easier to access in non-trivial ways. For instance, if our language marks space using the cardinal directions (e.g., “the office is north of the coffee shop”) it would make it easier for us to think in terms of north and south. 16 If, in contrast, our language marks space using speaker-focused directions (e.g., “the office is to my left”), it makes it easier for us to think in terms of left and right. 16
The Whorf hypothesis cuts at the core of what linguists, psychologists, and behavioral scientists in general want to know about language. So, it should be no surprise that it has been the topic of much (very passionate) debate in a great number of topics.
While we cannot take a stand on which side is right, we can walk through some of the research in one topic of debate: the linguistic relativity (or lack thereof) of color categories. Color categories are a natural place to look for language’s effect on a thought because there is nothing in the physics of light that requires us to draw the color boundaries at one place or another; we can split up the wavelengths in any way we would like. 15 Furthermore, it’s a fact that different languages mark color boundaries differently. English marks “light blue” and “dark blue” as one color, whereas Spanish distinguishes between “celeste” and “azul.” If the strong Whorf hypothesis were true, we would expect speakers of different languages to literally perceive colors differently, in accordance with their specific language’s boundaries. If the weak Whorf hypothesis were true, we would expect to see some linguistic influence of color perception.
In the 70s, many researchers argued that universals in color categories and perception across different languages falsified both versions of the Whorf hypothesis. For example, Eleanor Hedier’s study from 1972 found that there was no difference in how speakers from languages with different color categories could memorize “focal”, or easily rememberable, colors. 23 Brent Berlin and Paul Kay’s work in the 60s and 70s found that, while different languages have different color categories, these color categories all follow the same patterns: they come from 11 universal categories, and they follow the same historical progression. 24 These results greatly contradict any strong version of the Whorf hypothesis: it seems as though speakers of different languages perceive colors the same way, and that languages might not differ much in how they categorize color at all!
However, recent work has come to the defense of the weak form of the Whorf hypothesis. For instance, a landmark study done by researcher Johnathan Winawer and his colleagues in 2007 found that Russian speakers are significantly faster than English speakers at discriminating particular shades of blue. The Russian language, like Spanish, marks lighter shades of “blue” and darker shades of “blue” as different color categories. 17 As it turns out, when tasked with discriminating between these sorts of shades of blue, Russian speakers were able to discriminate between them faster than English speakers. 17 More importantly, when Winawer and his coauthors inserted a verbal interference— such as asking speakers to memorize a series of numbers and discriminate between different colors — the difference went away . 17 This suggests that Russian speakers are faster at discriminating between these shades of blue because they speak Russian. 17
We all know those good decisions are often future-oriented. We save money now so we can have a better retirement later . We exercise now so we are healthier long-term . But can the language we speak influence how prone we are to make future-oriented decisions?
According to Economist M. Keith Chen’s 2013 study titled “The Effect of Language on Economic Behavior: Evidence from Savings Rates, Health Behaviors, and Retirement Assets,” the answer seems to be “yes”. In this study, Chen studied the future-oriented decisions of English-speakers and German-speakers. English requires speakers to mark the future tense in a way that German does not. To say something about the future, English requires us to add the word “will.” 24 For example, to turn “it rains” into the future tense, we say “it will rain.” German, in contrast, does not require an additional word: present tense “Morgen regnet es” means “it rains tomorrow,” allowing German speakers to communicate about the future in the present tense. 25
Chen’s hypothesis was that this difference in whether a language marks the future through its own grammatical category could lead to a difference in decision-making.25 If a language forces speakers to separate the present from the future— like English does— speakers might be influenced into thinking of the future as more distant, making them less prone to make future-oriented decisions. 20 In contrast, if speakers are not forced to grammatically mark the difference between the present and the future— like German does—speakers might see the future as closer to the present, making them more prone to make future decisions. 25
Surprisingly, the hypothesis was borne out: German speakers were more likely to save, exercise, etc. than English speakers. 25 Even more shockingly, this effect doesn’t seem to be only correlated with a cultural or institutional difference between English-speaking countries and German-speaking countries.25 What Chen found is that language and culture can influence decision-making independently: people can be influenced into more future-oriented decisions either by the society they live in or by the language they speak. 25
Related TDL Content
Zooming Out: The Impact of Distance on our Decisions
In our case study, we saw how placing distance between future events and present events— by speaking a language that forces us to distinguish them grammatically—is associated with worse long-term decision making. However, temporal distance is not alone in causing behavioral effects. In this piece, Kaylee Somerville explores how other kinds of distance influence the decisions we make.
Drone Policy (2/3): Understanding The Issues
As we discussed earlier, most behavioral scientists are willing to admit that language has an influence on how we think. In this piece by Jared Celniker, we see one example of that influence in drone policy. He explores how, oftentimes, delicate and inoffensive language influences us into thinking that a drone strike was justified
- Special Words That Don’t Exist in English (Yet). (2018). BBC News . https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-45685575
- 10 of the Best Words in the World (That Don’t Translate Into English). (2018). The Guardian . https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/27/10-of-the-best-words-in-the-world-that-dont-translate-into-english
- Scholz, B. C., Pelletier, F. J., & Pullum, G. K. (2020). Philosophy of Linguistics.In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer2020). Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University.
- Boutonnet, B., Dering, B., Viñas-Guasch, N., & Thierry, G. (2013). Seeing Objects through the Language Glass. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience , 25 (10), 1702–1710. https://doi.org/10.1162/jocn_a_00415
- Pinker, S. (2010). The language instinct: How the mind creates language (Nachdr.). Harper Perennial.
- Lucy, J. A. (1992). Language diversity and thought: A reformulation of the linguistic relativity hypothesis . Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511620843
- Lupyan, G. (2012). Linguistically Modulated Perception and Cognition: The Label-Feedback Hypothesis. Frontiers in Psychology , 3 . https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00054 .
- Chomsky, N., & Smith, N. (2000). New Horizons in the Study of Language and Mind (1st ed.). Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511811937
- Fodor, J. A. (1983). The Modularity of Mind: an Essay on Faculty Psychology . https://doi.org/10.7551/mitpress/4737.001.0001
- Koerner, E. F. K. (1992). The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis: A Preliminary History and a Bibliographical Essay. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology , 2 (2), 173–198. https://doi.org/10.1525/jlin.19184.108.40.206
- Advance Your Career. (2000). American Anthropological Association . https://www.americananthro.org/AdvanceYourCareer/Content.aspx?ItemNumber=1581
- McWhorter, J. H. (2014). The language hoax: Why the world looks the same in any language . Oxford University Press.
- Baghramian, M., & Carter, J. A. (2021). Relativism. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.),T he Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2021). Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University.
- Haun, D. B. M., Rapold, C. J., Janzen, G., & Levinson, S. C. (2011). Plasticity of human spatial cognition: Spatial language and cognition covary across cultures. Cognition , 119 (1), 70–80. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2010.12.009
- Winawer, J., Witthoft, N., Frank, M. C., Wu, L., Wade, A. R., & Boroditsky, L. (2007). Russian blues reveal effects of language on color discrimination. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , 104 (19), 7780–7785. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0701644104
- Mueller-Vollmer, K., & Messling, M. (2017). Wilhelm von Humboldt. In E. N.Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2017).Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University.
- Tax, S. (2021, July 5). Franz Boas . Encyclopedia Britannica . https://www.britannica.com/biography/Franz-Boas
- Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia (2021, January 31). Edward Sapir . Encyclopedia Britannica . https://www.britannica.com/biography/Edward-Sapir
- Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia (2021, July 22). Benjamin Lee Whorf . Encyclopedia Britannica . https://www.britannica.com/biography/Benjamin-Lee-Whor
- McGilvray, J. A. (2021, March 23). Noam Chomsky . Encyclopedia Britannica . https://www.britannica.com/biography/Noam-Chomsky
- Heim, I., & Kratzer, A. (1998). Semantics in generative grammar . Blackwell.
- Heider, E. R. (1972). Universals in color naming and memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology , 93 (1), 10–20. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0032606
- Cook, R. S., Kay, P., & Regier, T. (n.d.). The World Color Survey Database: History and Use . 22. http://www1.icsi.berkeley.edu/~kay/claire7.pdf
- Chen, M. K. (2013). The Effect of Language on Economic Behavior: Evidence from Savings Rates, Health Behaviors, and Retirement Assets. American Economic Review , 103 (2), 690–731. https://doi.org/10.1257/aer.103.2.690
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