a340-11f-101-11-SteckleyCh3 - Living in our Globalized...

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Living in our Globalized World: Notes 11 Linguistic relativity: Steckley Chapter 3 Copyright Bruce Owen 2011 - Steckley: White Lies About the Inuit: Chapter 3, Fifty-two words for snow pp. 51-76 - Yet another way that people come to assumptions about the other: by drawing conclusions about them from “knowledge” about their language - Steckley argues that the widespread claim that Inuit have an unusually large number of words for snow is - “useful knowledge” for supporting points about language in teaching and debates - thus not carefully checked, readily used and taught - “useful knowledge” in that it tends to support a view of Inuit as intellectually inferior - suggesting that it is OK to treat them in a paternalistic way rather than as equal partners with full rights - Background to this view: linguistic relativity - the idea that language influences or channels perception and thought - proposed by Edward Sapir and Benjamin Whorf - often called the “Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis” - famous hypothetical example of the watchman in the warehouse - a bunch of 55-gallon fuel drums are labeled “empty” - since English does not have a common word that distinguishes between “absolutely empty” and “empty of the main solid or liquid contents, but still containing residue or fumes”… - he tosses a glowing cigarette butt and gets blown to smithereens - this quirk of our language led him not to notice or think about the fumes - a language that had words that made this distinction would have channeled his perception differently - suggests that languages may have features that predispose speakers to
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This note was uploaded on 03/02/2012 for the course ANTHRO 340.101 taught by Professor Owen during the Fall '11 term at Sonoma.

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a340-11f-101-11-SteckleyCh3 - Living in our Globalized...

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