Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

February 23, 2018

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis says that language reflects culture. This I agree with. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis says that language constrains the way people think. This I do not agree with. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis says that says that culture is expressed through the use of language and the words and structures people use to communicate. This is sometimes true. Starting off, language does reflect culture. In english, we use terms like swag and gtg(got to go) and other odd terms that are quite unique. We have a sometimes laid back and sometimes in a hurry culture that really doesn’t believe in constraints and this is reflected by our language. Using slang words like swag reflects our casual side, how we act informally, while abbreviations like gtg can be either laid back or in a hurry. So, language does reflect culture… but it does not limit thinking. This is untrue for one central reason: language develops with the people. Language didn’t develop before us. It develops as people change. If language did limit the way people thought, it would mean that we don’t develop new words, that we don’t change as a people, but we do, so clearly it is untrue that language constrains our thinking. Finally, only sometimes is culture expressed through the use of language and the words and structures people use to communicate. First, it is true sometimes because language develops with a culture. As a culture develops, so does a language and so culture is expressed by our languages, but language also develops because of necessity. Articles like “the”, for example, do not reflect our culture and many others besides as well. So sometimes also, the structure of our language does not express culture. In conclusion, some of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is true and some is not.






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