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The metaphor of ‘linguistic relativity’

  • ‘Linguistic relativity’ has become a major keyword in debates on the psychological significance of language diversity. In this context, the term ‘relativity’ was originally taken on loan from Einstein’s then-recent theories by Edward Sapir (1924) and Benjamin L. Whorf (1940). The present paper assesses how far the idea of linguistic relativity does analogically build on relevant insights in modern physics, and fails to find any substantial analogies. The term was used rhetorically by Sapir and Whorf, and has since been incorporated into a cognitivist research programme that seeks to answer whether ‘language influences thought’. Contemporary research on ‘linguistic relativity’ has developed into a distinct way of studying language diversity, which shares a lot with the universalistic cognitivist framework it opposes, but little with relational approaches in science.

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Author:Jörg ZinkenGND
Parent Title (English):History and Philosophy of Psychology
Document Type:Article
Year of first Publication:2008
Date of Publication (online):2015/04/23
Tag:Sprachdeterminismus; Sprachliches Relativitätsprinzip
GND Keyword:Denken; Sapir-Whorf-Hypothese; Sprache
First Page:1
Last Page:10
Dewey Decimal Classification:400 Sprache / 430 Deutsch
Linguistics-Classification:Psycholinguistik / Kognitive Linguistik
Open Access?:Ja
Licence (German):Es gilt das UrhG