3 Nov 2013

Language, culture and identity: the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis

B2, C1
Hi there!

Today's entry is devoted to the relationship between language, culture and identity: believe it or not, the language we speak shapes the way we are, feel and behave, as it also affects the way our brain works. At the same time, our language is always deeply rooted in one particular culture, which determines the way we think and the way we conceptualize the world.

However, to what extent is that determination true?

Would you agree with the following sentence? What implications does it have?

"Without a culture we cannot see,
but with a culture we are forever blind."
K.J. Irving

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis holds that the structure of a language affects the perceptions of reality of its speakers and thus influences their thought patterns and world views. Therefore, people who speak different languages can "live" the world from different perspectives and therefore have a richer experience. 

If you are interested in this subject, check out the video below. I must admit it might be a little bit too technical, but it will give you a good picture of what the Sapir-Whort hypothesis defends.

NB: If you open the video on YouTube, you can activate the option "subtitles", although I'm afraid they're only available in Spanish...


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