Talk:Linguistic relativity

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Okay, it's really important to distinguish between the hard and weak forms. I can help write this (later), might have to dig up some of my old notes, though. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 05:09, 3 June 2011 (UTC)

You are totally correct, and I'm sorry this is such a lean stub... but someone was running around removing redlinks willy-nilly, and I thought I would at least try to get this one started. Sorta ran out gas after the first sentence though. Would appreciate any help ("complete rewrite") you can offer at your leisure! ħumanUser talk:Human 05:19, 3 June 2011 (UTC)
Eh, no problem. I was actually planning on doing this myself at some point anyway. It's not too difficult -- basically, the hard form is woo, the soft form is accepted. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 05:22, 3 June 2011 (UTC)

There was an experiment with languages which used different grammatical genders for given words - speakers used different categories of adjectives depending upon whether the word was male or female. (talk) 18:02, 12 July 2011 (UTC)

do you have a name of the scholar, or a citation? I ask, cause I think that is more US than language wide. Since other languages have natural gender to nouns, it's not something the "attend" to in any way. That is, in teh US, if i talk about my car as a she, my cup as a he, my computer as a she - i am necessarily giving it a sexual gender. But in french or german, where words already have linguistic gender, they do not carry associated sexual genders, therefore there is no reason or justification for using one set of adjectives instead of any other. A book is no more masculine than a hand. But does the word "she" or "he" in english bring gender associations, you betcha. I think we can find some good references on how people see "god like beings" depending on the gendered pronoun they choose.--Pink mowse.pngEn attendant Godot 18:27, 12 July 2011 (UTC)

Seriously politicized SW.[edit]

So I have a problem with this article, and not sure how "we" proceed. They way it's framed really doesn't do justice to SW and is sorta a hatchet job just to focus on "newspeak", and largely misses that no one who understands SW would ever think that "newspeak" works, or is relevant to language. However, to rewrite it is to totally gut it, and i'm not sure that's normally done. How should we be proceeding when we say "this really doesn't make sense as understood by linguists out there".Pink mowse.pngGodotThe Peyote God awaits 21:29, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

Needs some links/cites and some more on soft SW, but I don't think it needs a rewrite. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 21:36, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
There's a place for a hatchet job on newspeak, I agree it concentrates on that too much but I also think it's the closest aspect of the theory to RW's perspective. ADK...I'll feel your blow-up doll! 21:42, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
I'd really almost rather do an article on newspeak, and dump this. Cause newspeak, and political correctness really have little to do with SW. Newspeak is a very RW article. we could mention SW in that article. ie., flip them around.Pink mowse.pngGodotThe Peyote God awaits 21:51, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
Have at. TyTy 21:55, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
The relationship to Newspeak is specifically that Orwell's appendix on it states the reason is that "thought it is dependent on words". Similarly, political correctness aims to remove [...]ist thought by removing [...]ist terms. I.e., if the words don't exist the thoughts don't exist. While removing and adding words to control language may not be the core of the SW hypothesis, the idea of thought being limited by words to the degree that such an act is viable seems to be pretty much the definition of the SW hypothesis - at least in the strongest form. In other words, Newspeak is a fictionalised exploitation of the strong formulation, the fact that isuch an endeavor wouldn't work is evidence that the hypothesis just isn't that strong. On similar lines I'd argue political correctness seems to be a real-life exploitation of the weak form. It doesn't seek to control language to the same degree by eliminating all thought pertaining to those words, but does a bit of "consciousness raising" regarding the language - and by extension the thoughts - that people use in their everyday [...]isms. ADK...I'll shave your operating theater! 23:56, 26 September 2011 (UTC)


The mention about black and white being present in all languages but purple and pink being indescribable until later reminded me of the Horizon on colour. Anyone catch it a few weeks ago? They had an experiment with a particular African tribe who had a certain colour space in their language. Basically, the test involved a ring of a dozen squares. 11 out of 12 were the same colour, one was different. Here's the thing, they presented one where I swear to fuck all were the same damn colour, really they looked the same. BUT the people from the tribe could identify the one that was slightly different very quickly, I could just about see it but I had to pause it and stare at the screen for five minutes and really think hard. On the other hand, though, they were presented with 11 green squares and 1 blue square - I could see that plain as day, one blue one stuck in a field of green, it was blatant - but this tribe couldn't see it, they saw it exactly the same way that I saw the previous one. Their actual colour perception seemed to indeed be controlled by the language space used to describe colours. The tribe had two names for subtly different shades of what we'd call green (it was a grassy looking green to me) but had no differentiation between one shade of green and a particular blue which we in English-speaking countries do - and vice versa. This wasn't a case of "what would you call that colour" it was a case of just pointing to the one that was different, even if you didn't have a name for it. So really, our language did seem to control our thought patterns with this. ADK...I'll vote your foible! 21:56, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

Similarly: remember the QI where SF said ancient Greeks had no word for blue: calling the sky "bronze"? Scream!! (talk) 22:06, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
That's looking into the development of words to describe colours. They seem to go in a certain order. So if a language has only 2 words we can be sure they'll be black and white. "Purple" and "pink" don't even exist until we hit 7 words, for instance. But given that colour differentiation may have something to do with that sort of language, indeed it's possible that the sky really did look bronze back then. ADK...I'll loll your mouth! 22:10, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

Here's some similar research, it even specifically mentions how it relates to the Whorfian approach. ADK...I'll legislate your brisket! 22:12, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

It's not that the sky looks bronze, its that when you see the sky, you associate it with the bronzes, so it has the emotional characteristic of bronze. When I work with Lakota, they have one word for black, green and blue (except lichen green which is white, but i digress). For the lakota, "to" colors are mysterious and yet non violent. the red and the brown are lifeforce, and violent. They have "sapa" which is black, or burnt, but it's an association NOT with color, but with an event that has happened. So the black of burned wood is sapa, but the black of deep muddy water is still "to". They have only 4 colors and white, and burnt... green/black, red, yellow (sun and flowers), and brown. Though i do not know this from my own research, i was told that in Navajo, there are different sets of colors for living things as for non-living things. Again, framing how they see their world. (by the by, it was with the navajo and hopi that SW discovered their argument. - but of course you knew that, i'm sure).
Yep, good show. that study is one of the main confirmations of SW, or at least of something. the problem is always "chicken or the egg". is it that the language category creates the reality, or the reality (their reality) creates the category. it is without doubt that they cannot and do not perceive colors the way we do, BECAUSE of the category. But no one knows why. SW is less an explanation than a description of a natural, necessary correlation -- but it still has nothing to do with individual words being given new identities (newspeech), or with politically correct speech, cause at it's core, the linguistic relativity is about categories. :P the show was cool on a number of levels, though. :-)Pink mowse.pngGodotThe Peyote God awaits 23:46, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

Here be a thought...[edit]

The strongest form of the SW hypothesis suggests that thought is controlled and restricted by language. Obvious nonsense, the fact that I can't find the right word to describe how I feel about period dramas doesn't stop me thinking it. But it can stop, or at least hinder, communicating it efficiently. Now, we're social animals and collective intelligence and communication are far more important than any individual intellect. So, if we can't actually communicate an idea, then the strong SW hypothesis applies at a social level, rather than an individual level. If you think of us as some kind of hive organism (a stretch in a literal sense, of course) then our thoughts really are restricted by language. ADK...I'll deter your ramen noodle! 14:27, 1 October 2011 (UTC)

Political Correctness[edit]

From the article

politically correct terms generally don't succeed in eradicating racist or sexist thoughts and attitudes.

Well, err, I'm not so sure that either (a) that is the point of political correctness and (b) the extent to which it is true. From Wikipedia's article on political correctness

Advocates of inclusive language defend it as inoffensive-language usage whose goal is multi-fold:

  1. The rights, opportunities, and freedoms of certain people are restricted because they are reduced to stereotypes.
  2. Stereotyping is mostly implicit, unconscious, and facilitated by the availability of pejorative labels and terms.
  3. Rendering the labels and terms socially unacceptable, people then must consciously think about how they describe someone unlike themselves.
  4. When labeling is a conscious activity, the described person's individual merits become apparent, rather than his or her stereotype.

To dismiss this with an unsupported assertion that it 'generally (note the weasel word) doesn't work' seems beneath us. Bad Faith (talk) 16:33, 2 December 2011 (UTC)

>blather from Wikipedia< Or, in short, eradicate racist/sexist/etc. thoughts and attitudes. As to the efficacy of the terms, I think the existence of the euphemism treadmill has settled that question Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 16:54, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
Can we think of an instance where PC (or another linguistic movement) has succeeded in changing the thoughts and attitudes of a populace? -- Seth Peck (talk) 18:00, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
Sure, look at what happens when soldiers stop saying "towel heads", and start calling people either by their names, or even the cities they are from. They are less able to shoot. We know that on school grounds where kids are not allowed to use Nigger, faggot, cunt, etc., levels of bulling go down. these are not causative studies. They are, though, an interesting suggestion that when you are allowed to dehumanize a person with language, you can do more foul things to them. That said, Listerner's argument is worth making in the article, I think.Pink mowse.pngGodotAround, around, around, around, over, and under and through 18:04, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
I'm not sure how far that goes to being relevant to the hypothesis that language influences thought. To me, it's closer to the rationalist taboo in both method and result. It stems from restricting your use of lazy mental shortcuts, but that doesn't seem like the same thing as stating that what words we use really do restrict and alter our thoughts - it would merely make us more aware of why we think them and then, should they be poor thoughts, discard them as such. Perhaps this does count as the SW-hypothesis in the weak form and is a legitimate mechanism for it to happen, but it's a far cry from asserting that removing the word "nigger" from the lexicon would prevent racism because no one would have a word for it. Scarlet A.pngsshole 22:57, 3 December 2011 (UTC)

Is Wolfe's book ...[edit]

...the insporation for the episode Darmok in ST:TNG? As an on-and-off Star Trek fan, this is just a thought, but perhaps it deserves a mention. Cheers Sorte Slyngel (talk) 20:36, 20 January 2016 (UTC)