Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

1. The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis meant the comprehension of the world for an individual determines by the background linguistics system or grammar. In other words, language which use in his or her culture influence his or her thought, idea, view of the world. Explanation of this hypothesis will be more apprehensible by examples. ‘Cultural emphasis’ is one of the popular examples of Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis. Cultural emphasis is if a culture “A” counts more than about certain aspect another culture “B”, the culture “A” tends to have more verity of word that the culture “B” about the aspect.
For example, in English words related family relationship might be 20 or less: aunt, uncle, father, mother, grandmother, grandfather, great grandmother or grandfather, son, daughter, cousin, father/mother in law, kin. In contrast, Korea has about 70 or more, which is a natural result as Confucianism was widely spread in Korea. Another obvious example to explain about Sapri-Whorf Hypothesis is “time”, and “space”. In the book, Whorf have studied to explain his hypothesis with “time” which is the most common nouns in the English language according to the Lera Boroditsky’s lecture.
The Indo-Europeans (most western people) view the time in three major tenses-‘past, present, and future’. Even though ‘past’ and ‘future’ is an abstract concept compare to ‘present’, the language of western people consider ‘past’ and ‘future’ s real as ‘present’. Therefore, the Indo-Europeans have a cultural form of time units(century, decade, year, month, day, hour, minute even seconds), and from that form there are various other cultural form as records, histories, calendars, and even stock markets.

However, the Hopis has different concept of time: objective, and subjective. The ‘objective’ is a fact which exist, and the ‘subjective’ is a state is becoming. In other words, rather than past, present, future, there are things becoming that has individual life rhythms like growing, declining, or changing as plants, weather, or any other form of mother nature does. Therefore, Hopis likely to view the present (objectives) as becoming (subjective) can come to pass. Even Korea, had different concept of time before modernization.
People divided a day in 12(based on Zodiac); in other words two hours was the smallest universal unit of time in Korea. So, occasionally, a friend should wait for about 2hours. By this cultural difference with western society, create a word “Korean Time”(being lazy) during the Korean War and the word is listed on Oxford Dictionary. Lera Boroditsky developed Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis by comparing time and space. She insists that the concept of time order in space differs by culture.
Lera have shown an interesting video clip of “3D spacing” which is arranging time order if there is a dot floating on the air. Koreans may arrange time like ‘breakfast-lunch-dinner’(1-2-3/horizontal order) or ‘breakfast(up)/lunch(mid)/dinner(bottom)’ in the self-orientated position as Korean society had accepted western literacy of reading left to right, but still has some cultural trace of reading up to bottom. However, the Kuuk tribe’s answer differs by their direction.
They will arrange time as 3-2-1 while facing north, and will arrange time by 1-2-3 while facing south. This order is defined by the direction of sunrise and sunset(east to west); and this is a consequence of a culture of saying hello as ‘where are you going’; and the possible answer for the Kuuk people is ‘Far over there to the north-north-east’ or ‘To the toilet of south west to clean by hand at south east’. In a nutshell, Sapir, and Whorf claims people understand their world by their linguistic system which is highly related to culture.
By comparing Hopis, Korean and Indo-Europeans, We could acknowledge that he norm of ‘time’ is different by culture; and by comparing Kuuk Thaayorre tribe, and Korean, we could admit that the arranging time differs by cultural sense of space. Consequently, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis seems quite reasonable as each group of people thinks and acts differently by the form of cultural language. Reference: http://fora. tv/2010/10/26/Lera_Boroditsky_How_Language_Shapes_Thought#fullprogram David S. Thomson’s (2011/10/25). The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis: Worlds Shaped by Words.
Retrieved from http://uee. unist. ac. kr/webapps/portal/frameset. jsp? tab_tab_grou p_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_7103_1%26url%3D 2. The critics of Sapri-Whorf Hypothesis had insisted the bond between culture and language, doubts the relevance of person’s view of the world. The example of Shona which tribe has only three category of colors does not mean that Shona’s eye is psychologically different; and can’t see rainbow as English-speakers do. It’s just hard to speak the definition of the color.
Moreover, Whorf probably didn’t consider dead metaphors for Hopi language. For example, “God be with you,” doesn’t mean that person will imagine God being with him. I do admit that Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis’s example has some risk of uncertainties as it is hard to totally understand culture of Shona or Hopies for Whorf of other people. However, I do not agree that it Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis is wrong twofold: one is the hypothesis is more related to mental state of people rather than physiological state; and the other is dead metaphor still affects in other way.
First, even though it is true that people physiologically that human eyes are same, it doesn’t mean they recognize at the same way as others. For example there is an experiment from BBC ‘Do you see what I see’ that could reject critics concern. A person from BBC went to the tribe, Himba. The western experimenter showed 12 colors which only one color is different. The western person have shown 11 colors of no. 80-188-12(red,green,blue), and another color of no. 93-188-2(red,green,blue).
Both colors seem ‘green’ and it is pretty hard to recognize the difference of us; nevertheless, the Himba recognize them without hesitation. In another experiment, the western person has shown 11 colors no. 35-95-65 and one color of no. 35-95-110. To the western, the two colors is apparently divided as blue and green; however, this is not the case of Himba tribe. And the second experiment seemed like a knotty problem for the Himba. Second, although it is a dead metaphor it still influences in an indirect way of person’s view of the world.
Even the words ‘God bless you’, or ‘God be with you’ means just good luck, it still influences the view of the world. Though the person isn’t Christian, the linguistic system means that there is a culture of Christianity that is recognizable. There is an obvious difference of knowing about Christian and not knowing about Christian. A person knows about Christian heard ‘I’m a Christian’, he or she may see the person with some prejudice; but a person who doesn’t know about the Christian won’t care that much about it. In onclusion, although it is insecure to define another culture from the western view, it doesn’t mean that Sapir-Whorf is wrong. As matter of fact, critics concern about physiological view of the eye wasn’t related enough to the problem of human thought, and the dead metaphor still gave influence to the person’s view of his or her own world. Reference: David S. Thomson’s (2011/10/25). The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis: Worlds Shaped by Words. Retrieved from http://uee. unist. ac. kr/webapps/portal/frameset. jsp? tab_tab_grou p_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_7103_1%26url%3D
BBC HORIZON (2011/08/20) Do you See what I see? www. youtube. com/watch? v=4b71rT9fU-I 5. People occasionally see each other sex as a different creature; and we easily have misconceptions about the differences between. Deborah Tannen argued “both women and men often feel they are not getting sufficient credit for what they have done, are not being listened to, are not getting ahead as fast as they should. “(p. 64); He explains several reasons why people misunderstand different sex with twofold aspects: conversational rituals, and strategies.
In conversational rituals, Tannen claims “men often involve using opposition such as banter, joking, teasing, and playful put-downs, and expending effort to avoid the one-down position in the interaction. ” while “women are often ways of maintaining an appearance of equality, taking into account the effect of the exchange on the other person, and expending effort to downplay the speakers’ authority so they can get the job done without flexing their muscles in an obvious way. ” For example, men tend to speak quite direct, including emotions, like ‘Hey! Chicken!
Go and clean your dirty the room’; by contrast, women might ask ‘I think it would be really nice if the room is cleaned’ even though she thinks the room is dirty and disgusting. Tennen insist ” Men whose oppositional strategies are interpreted literally may be seen as hostile when they are not, and their efforts to ensure that they avoid appearing one-down may be taken as arrogance. When women use conversational strategies designed to avoid appearing boastful and to take the other person’s feelings into account, they may be seen as less confident and competent than they really are. According to my experience, among friends between men, the conversation between friends includes insult. Usually, the more trust, the more insults exist between male friends; however, women tends to appraise nearly everything each other, appearance, clothing, make ups, and so on. For instance, there is a famous example of a true-ish story related to this. There is a couple. The man met his old friend in front of her girlfriend. While being happy meeting with his friend, suddenly, she said “Let’s break up, I didn’t knew you were such a crude person”. The man was just showing friendship in a universal way of other men do.
In conclusion, men and women are easy to have misconceptions each other as they have their own cultural-like difference between. The gap of between is not only because of the conversational rituals, but also, the strategies they use. Reference: “Women and Men Talking on the Job”, from Talking from 9 to 5 by Debora Tannen. Copyright ? 1994 by Deborah Tannen. 6. The culture of Kula, the Potlatch, and food taboo (pigs in the reading) are seems quite imprudent from the view of modern society led by western culture. However, it exist whether it is awkward or not for us.
Through Marvin Harris’ logical objective point of view in adaptation, being economical, or being ecological, I would describe my possible reason of ‘why’ these culture exist. In the Milne Bay Province of Papua New Guinea the 18 island community holds a closed trading system called Kula or Kula Ring. The Kula was an enclosed trading system for only few senior male trading partners from each island were able to participate. With only a large outrigger sailing canoes, the long life-risking voyages were taken for this trade. And the result of this trade is to have few so-called luxuries which are made out of shells or similar form.
This strange custom that was held between islands far apart had beneficial aspects for the each tribe. First, each tribe can show diplomacy. The better reciprocity of each tribe overseas, the power of the island tribe is more influential. Second reason is that men of the tribe can have more unity. When people go through a hardship which is people each other feels more unity as more risk was involved in the incident. Through, this dangerous voyage, men in the tribe could have strong unity of going through hardship. Lastly, island tribe could have better economic status.
By using surplus, they could get rich and have more stable economy of the island tribe. Potlatch is an undated ceremony which is held for incidents to celebrate like son’s marriage, the birth of a child, a daughter’s first menses, and so on. During the potlatch, tribal leader tenders to other tribe member a banquet which includes not only providing foods and presents, but also burning or tearing patriarch’s own property. Marvin Harris explained this as First, it is a feast for unity. And it could actualize his or her status as a patriarch. By showing off in front of other member of the tribe, he could unify his tribe by earning respect.
As respect could give the cause of gathering more asset of from his tribe member, he could continually gather and lose money and sustain his reputation as a tribe leader. Second, it is a way of bragging his power to other tribe with less blood or war. During Potlatch, other tribe leaders occasionally been invited. And the invited leaders have moral duty to open another Potlatch in his tribe. Through the ceremony, the tribe leader could show the economic situation or power of the tribe. Therefore, each patriarch could show better diplomacy to other tribe.
Raising hog is one of the most economical ways of getting protein comparing between the amount of meat and the crops consumed. Nevertheless, Quran describe pig as a devil and not to be eaten. And Islamic version of Bible is still followed today. Though it seems not rational in present, Quran’s taught was greatly reasonable dozen centuries ago. Quran was an enshrined book for the nomadic people in the Middle East which is filled with dessert. For them, water is more valuable then diamond. And among the cattle that nomadic people raise, pigs were the best consumers of water at that moment.
Also, pigs that are raise in farms had more economical value as they simply don’t have to move and burn fat as much the nomadic people do. Most of all, pigs cannot sweat. They don’t have sweat hole as other mammals do. Their adaptations weren’t for the hot weather itself; and easily died in the hot and dry dessert condition. Harris’s argument is there is always a very logical reason for a culture whether it is strange or normal. And his logical reasons could be found by an objective point of view such as in adaptation, being economical, or being ecological.
References http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Kula_ring http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Trobriand_Islands http://anthro. palomar. edu/economy/econ_3. htm 7. The Native Americans of the Great Plain were highly depended their lives to buffalos. Buffalos were not only the method of food, but almost everything they need: shelter, clothing, fuel, tools, weapons, and other equipment by using buffalo’s horn, skin, and even dung. Nevertheless, the Native Americans of the Great Plain never worshiped them. Instead, they worshiped Mother Nature, and Father Sky.
In other words, they believed everything living and of nature had a spirits I believe that Marvin Harrison might guess this reason as that buffalos were very plentiful for them, and buffalos were not the only ‘sprit’ that influenced Native Americans: but, most of all, if they have worshiped buffalos, the ritual of hunting ‘holy’ buffalos might be thought as taboo. Buffalo’s economical value exists only by killing them. As they were valuable, but not valuable enough not to kill, the belief of Totemism might have been a great alternative to them. Reference: Darko-Adara (2009. 04. 20) Psychology Concert, StarBooks, Seoul http://en. wikipedia. rg/wiki/Plains_Indians http://www. buffalofieldcampaign. org/aboutbuffalo/bisonnativeamericans. html Midterm Essay AHS10404 20101695 Lee, Sang-Deok Answered questions 1. Define the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis and explain it by giving examples of ‘cultural emphasis. ’ In your answer, refer specifically to the concepts of ‘time’ and ‘space’ in your language. Your answer should refer to the reading AND the lecture by Lera Boroditsky (10 points) 2. State how critics of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis criticize the hypothesis and discuss whether you agree or not, and support your argument with specific examples in your own language (5 points). . Describe Tannen’s arguments about why men and women misunderstand each other, and find some examples from your experience or from other sources. (5 points) 6. Describe the Kula, the Potlatch, and food taboo in the readings. How would Marvin Harris (possibly) explain all these cultural practices? Discuss Harris’ arguments in relation to these three practices. (10 points) 7. Native Americans of the Great Plains never worshiped the buffalo. Why not? Based on what Harris has written, can you think of reasons why they did not worship the animal that was the source of their food? (extra 3 points)

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