Read The Language Hoax: Why the World Looks the Same in Any Language by John H. McWhorter Free Online
Book Title: The Language Hoax: Why the World Looks the Same in Any Language|
The author of the book: John H. McWhorter
Edition: Oxford University Press
Date of issue: April 29th 2014
ISBN 13: 9780199361588
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Reader ratings: 5.9
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 792 KB
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Japanese has a term that covers both green and blue. Russian has separate terms for dark and light blue. Does this mean that Russians perceive these colors differently from Japanese people? Does language control and limit the way we think, such that each language gives its speakers a different "worldview"?
This short, opinionated book addresses the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which argues that the language we speak shapes the way we perceive the world. Linguist John McWhorter argues that while this idea is mesmerizing, it is plainly wrong. Cultural differences are quite real. However, the way languages' grammar world, and the random ways that their vocabularies happen to describe the world—whether time is expresses with vertical expressions instead of horizontal ones, whether a language happens to have a word for stick out or wipe—do not correspond to its speakers' experience of living. The fact that a language has only one word for eat, drink and smoke—as many do— doesn't mean its speakers don't process the differences between food and beverages as vividly as other people, and those who use the same word for blue and green perceive those two colors just as vividly as others do.
McWhorter shows not only how the idea of language as a lens fails but also why we want so badly to believe it: we're eager to celebrate diversity by acknowledging the intelligence of peoples who may not think like we do. Though well-intentioned, our belief in this idea poses an obstacle to a better understanding of human nature and even trivializes the people we seek to celebrate. The reality—that all humans think alike—provides another, better way for us to acknowledge the intelligence of all peoples.
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