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Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

 

Explanations > Theories > Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

Description | Example | So What? | See also | References 

 

Description

Our understanding of the world is determined by the language we use. In effect, we language reality into existence (a scary thought!).

This is something that Wittgenstein also considered in Philosophical Investigations (1953), where instead of seeing sentences as pictures of the world, as he had done in his earlier work, he viewed it as a series of games, each with its own rules. This undermines any distinction between the real world and language and he saw the world as existing only within language.

Example

If I say ‘vegetarianism is good’ often enough then it will eventually become true. In fact it becomes a (not the) truth as I say it, at least for me.

So what?

Using it

Understand the power of language. Use it to good effect. The pen and the mouth are truly more powerful than the sword.

Defending it

Understand the power of language. Hear how others are using it. Do not let their reality become your reality unless it makes sufficient sense to you.

See also

Language Expectancy Theory

 

References

Whorf (1956)

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