Whorf_and_Pinker-Cash - Language: Whorf and Pinker Plan:...

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1 Language: Whorf and Pinker Plan: Review Wittgenstein Whorf: Linguistic Relativity Thinking is dependent on language Pinker: Against linguistic relativity An innate “language of thought”. We can think independently of language 1
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Last time: Wittgenstein:“If a lion could speak, we could not understand him” It is not because we cannot peer into the lion’s mind We can’t do that with other people The problem: we know nothing about the lion’s world Meaning cannot be anything essentially private Knowing a language is knowing how to use words appropriately , in a shared social world For some sound, gesture or mark to be a part of language it must be possible to use it appropriately or inappropriately We have “agreement in judgments” about how to appropriately use a word. This “agreement” comes from sharing a culture; from being socialized into a linguistic community
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Benjamin Whorf (1897-1941): Language, Thought and Reality A fire prevention engineer for a Hartford Insurance Company Studied with linguist Edward Sapir “We dissect nature along lines laid down by our native language.”
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I. Against Natural Logic/ Common Sense A. Presupposes a common reason upon which thought depends B. Language and grammar insignificant C. Two Fallacies 1. It’s a mistake not to see the influence of language, which is largely unconscious. 2. It’s a mistake to think that when we agree about something we understand how we came to agree.
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II. For Linguistics A. After scientifically studying many languages it was found that language is not merely a reproducing instrument for voicing ideas but rather is itself the shaper of ideas, the program and guide for the individual’s mental activity.” B. Principle of Linguistic Relativity: one’s thinking is relative to one’s language.
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A. Word Classes and Division of Nature 1. Indo-European Languages ( nouns and verbs: a bipolar division of nature?) (e.g., in Nootka, all words seem to be verbs, in Hopi there are no verb tenses) B. Different Cosmologies? 1. Western world: time, velocity, matter
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Whorf_and_Pinker-Cash - Language: Whorf and Pinker Plan:...

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