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Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

2 bytes added, 20:03, July 26, 2010
{{cquote|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. <small>''(Emphasis the author's own)''</small>}}
"Sapir believed that language shapes human perception and directs human behavior. From his view, understanding a culture was impossible without understanding the historical development of that culture’s language."<ref> [ "Edward Sapir,"] New World Encyclopedia, (accessed February 25, 2009). </ref> An example of Sapir's beliefs can be found in [[George Orwell]]'s book "''[[Nineteen Eighty-Four|1984]]"''. Here, "Newspeak" was created to alter the way people thought about the government. The new vocabulary was a method of mind control, since the population could not think of things that were not included in the vocabulary. In essence, they were prisoners of their own language.
==Related Theories==