EL101 CHAPTER 5-LANGUAGE AND CULTURAL PATTERNS OF THOUGHT.pdf

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Page 1MODULELANGUAGE AND CULTURE STUDIESCHAPTER 5: LANGUAGE AND CULTURAL PATTERNS OF THOUGHTLANGUAGEAND THOUGHTThoughsometimessimplisticallyviewedthroughitsmostobviousfunctionofexchanging information and thought amongpeople,i.e.throughitsreferential,communicative aspect, language has otherfunctions as well. One of the very importantaspects is cognitive which highlights the useof language as an instrument of thought andcognition, without necessary communicatingthe thoughts to others, as stressed by thevery influential generative paradigm.The relationship between language, thought and reality has fascinated philosophers andlinguists for centuries, so this article will necessarily be able only to outline some of thesignificant research. What we are primarily interested in here is whether one's languagedetermines or is determined by one's world view. Extending a person's world view toculture in the broadest sense of the word, weshall focus on the relationship betweenlanguage and its cultural aspects, rather thanpsychological ones, on the one hand, andhuman cognition, on the other. At the end ofthe previous section there has already beensome indication of this issue, when wementioned the premise of critical discourseanalysis that discourse not only reflectsreality, but language can be (intentionally)used in the construction of a particular reality.Objectives:Describe the Cultural Patterns of thought.Understand the uses of language thought and cultural patterns.Discuss importance of Language and Cultural Patterns ofthought in our daily lives.
Page 2MODULELANGUAGE AND CULTURE STUDIESThe idea that the way we see the world is (to some degree) dependent on the languagewe use is an old one, but it was most clearly andinfluentially voiced by Wilhelm von Humboldt inhis contention that each language contains apeculiar Weltanschauung (world view), whichcauses its speakers to see and think in acharacteristic way, different from the speakers ofother languages. This has become known as theprinciple of language relativity.In the first half of the 20th century these ideas were particularly embraced in America,by the anthropologist F. Boas and linguist Edward Sapir, and expanded by Sapir andBenjamin Lee Whorf in what became known as the 'Sapir-Whorf hypothesis' oflanguage relativity.Whorf's much-quoted statement that language is 'the shaper of ideas' and that 'wedissect nature along lines laid down by our native languages' has become the credo oflinguistic determinism. Whorf continues; the world ispresented in a kaleidoscopic flux of impressionswhich has to be organized in our mindsand thismeans largely by linguistic systems in our minds.'Later, he states: "This new principle of relativity holdsthat all observers are not led by the same physicalevidence to the same picture of the universe, unlesstheir linguistic backgrounds are similar.' (Whorf1956:213-4, based on Vorf 1979).

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Term
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Benjamin Lee Whorf, Linguistic relativity, Language and Cultural Patterns

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