According to Benjamin Lee Whorf, Native Americans have a picture of reality that is completely different from his, due to the imposition of language. However, after many false claims and thoughtful hypothesis, it came to fact that there was no evidence at all that language does, as a matter of fact, forbid the speaker to think anything. Personally, I don’t think language shapes the way people think. I believe that someone learns languages because that’s simply how they communicate in society. As a child, you get taught to say ‘’water’’ when you want water, to call for your mother when you’re in a sticky situation, etc., which is where language comes from; its just a huge form of communication which is based on things being labelled, in order to share your feelings and thoughts with others. However, language doesn’t at all shape the way you think. Language is a way to express what you think, but not to define it. I strongly believe that what shapes the way an individual thinks is the way the person was raised and taught, and not the language they speak. Its true that, for example, the Spanish speaking people from Colombia may think and act differently than North Americans, however that is fully based on culture and tradition. Overall, I think language has nothing to do with shaping ones thoughts, as ones thoughts are completely individual and unique, hence common languages do not have the power to manipulate thought patterns.
Language itself does not shape what people think; however the way people think in that society and the way people react to it is what shapes one person. The way you speak, the expressions used, the way thing are said all shape the way a person speaks and acts. The way people think are what they have been exposed to, and that is indirectly lead by the language a person speaks. That is because the things you see, the texts you read and the experiences being taught all depend on what language you speak. The things being the taught and the way that is being taught is also dependent on the language you speak, no solely for the language but because that defines where you are from and the place you are from defines the views that are going to be taught to you as a child. In each part of the world, for example, the same historical fact, like a war, is going to be presented to the students in a way that better suits their country and the outcome of that historical fact. The way one is going to fact to something is indeed very close to what language that person has been taught as a child, not because of the language itself but because that language brings a culture, traditions, views and so much more with it.
This article was very similar to two previous articles, the first being about babies developing accent prior to being born, and the other about Amazonian tribes’ people with no concept of time. I am also able to relate this article once again to my heritage and my second language of Tamil as well as all Indian languages. In most south Indian languages, there is no verb “to be”. In many western languages this is an extremely important part of grammar and if not included makes a person look quite dull. In Tamil we say “Naan kadeiki porren”, which when directly translated to English would say “To store I Go”. The proper way to say that is “I am going to the store”. In Tamil we do not use gerunds, or the verb “to be”. Sometimes you will hear Indian people, when they first speak English, always saying “I go now”. As a kid I was always very poor with using gerunds. After getting used to English, it became much easier to grasp the concept. Thus there seems to be some good truth in these articles. Obviously if a certain concept is not in a language, it does not mean the people who speak it cannot grasp that concept, only they need time to get used to it.
I believe it took a year to create a definition for “science” due to the extent and range of the word. Science covers so many different ideas and topics that a definition had to be created that wouldn’t exclude anything. Also, this is one of the first “official definitions” of science according to the article so there was a lot of pressure riding on the Science Council. Also, it is popularly said that things get better with time, so a lot of time was taken on this definition to ensure that the Science Council could check and double check everything and make the definition better. This article implies that science is a way of knowing. The definition states that science is a “pursuit of knowledge” and is a method in which people can gain information. However, some of the critics of the definition state that the definition doesn’t include the use of the word science as an area of knowledge or a category in which to define existing knowledge. Language is important in science because much of science is about defining and classifying the world around us. Creating definitions and creating new concepts are important aspects of science and language is used to explain the definitions and creations. Also, a method of investigation is commonly used in science to find answers about the world around us. Language is used in the explanation of the process of investigation and it is important that the language be clear to understand how the investigation was done.
Please disregard this blog post!!! I placed it in the wrong place!
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I found this article compelling and very intriguing. To think that someone views the world with a different set of eyes is impossible for me to perceive. What was most interesting is how feminine and masculine gender associations change how inanimate objects are perceived. I wonder if these associations cloud people’s views of the true characteristics of objects. In English, we have no gender associations for inanimate objects, so does that allow us to view objects as they truly exist? In other languages, does gender block them from perceiving a characteristic that an English speaker would see? Another thing I found interesting from the article was the discovery of some languages that only talked about space using cardinal directions. They have the ability to remember events with east, west, north and south directions. However, I think their perception of direction can be related to our perception of direction. When we remember certain events, we remember geographically where things are in relationship to ourselves. For example, our friend was in front of us and there was a waterfall to our left. In cardinal or geographic languages, they can understand north, south, east and west just as we understand left, right, front and back. This doesn't mean that we don’t have the ability to perceive cardinal directions from wherever we are, we just don’t have the necessity to do that because our language provides another means of describing space.
This article, as Athavan suggested, is pretty similar to the prior examined ones, about the baby development of accent while still in the mother’s womb and about the indigenous tribes who have no notion of time. I partially disagree with the concept that language shapes the way we think. I believe there is no such thing as being restricted to think in a certain way only because of a scarce word availability to define such thought- only there is no way of EXPRESSING it. Therefore, I do not believe language limits our thinking, only our way of showing it to the rest of the world. Following this line of thought, then, it is understandable why some language studiers such as Benjamin Lee Whorf let loose such an alluring idea, because if there is no way one can prove that it thinks in a certain way since there is no known word to express it, people will never be able to verify that what others think is, indeed, valid. On the other hand, I do believe that language sometimes can limit our interpretative boundaries in literature. Because we’ve been reading many translated books in IB Literature, I could personally experience this linguistic challenge, for many times, we discuss in class how the translation of foreign books into English has minimized their strong philosophical meaning. Concepts that are aimed at being uncovered by the reader through subjective language are often transformed into words of plain, literal significance, causing the books to lose their essence. Language imposes an everlasting challenge to our society and we still did not demystify it.
In the article, the chemical engineer Benjamin Lee Whorf, affirmed with his studies that Native Americans would not be able to understand basic concepts of their language, due to the fact language "imposes on them" a different picture of reality. I definitely agree with this statement because I believe that if a world or concept is not inserted in a human person’s daily life has never been shown to her due to lack of existence in this human particular environment, then the person will not be able to understand its concept because it is not use to its application in daily actions. Thus, if a language doesn’t have certain concepts, it will change the way we think because we will be forced to reason upon something in a different way, since we don’t share the same concepts or ideas.
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