This principle has frequently been called the " Sapir—Whorf hypothesis ", after him and his mentor Edward Sapirbut Whorf called it the principle of linguistic relativitybecause he saw the idea as having implications similar to Einstein's principle of physical relativity.
Throughout his life Whorf was a chemical engineer by profession, but as a young man he took up an interest in linguistics. At first this interest drew him to the study of Biblical Hebrewbut he quickly went on to study the indigenous languages of Mesoamerica on his own.
Professional scholars were impressed by his work and in he received a grant to study the Nahuatl language in Mexico; on his return home he presented several influential papers on the language at linguistics conferences. This led him to begin studying linguistics with Edward Sapir at Yale University while still maintaining his day job at the Hartford Fire Insurance Company. During his time at Yale he worked on the description of the Hopi languageand the historical linguistics of the Uto-Aztecan languagespublishing many influential papers in professional journals.
He was chosen as the substitute for Sapir during his medical Essay On Segmental English Phonology in Whorf taught his seminar on "Problems of American Indian Linguistics". In addition to his well-known work on linguistic relativity, he wrote a grammar sketch of Hopi and studies of Nahuatl dialects, proposed a deciphering of Maya hieroglyphic writingand published the first attempt towards a reconstruction of Uto-Aztecan.
After his death from cancer in his manuscripts were curated by his linguist friends who also worked to spread the influence of Whorf's ideas on the relation Essay On Segmental English Phonology language, culture and cognition. Many of click the following article works were published posthumously in the first decades after his death.
In the s Whorf's views fell out of favor and he became the subject of harsh criticisms by scholars who considered language structure to primarily reflect cognitive universals rather than cultural differences. Critics argued that Whorf's ideas were untestable and poorly formulated and that they were based on badly analyzed or misunderstood data. In the late 20th century, interest in Whorf's ideas experienced a resurgence, and a new generation of scholars more info reading Whorf's works, arguing that previous critiques had only engaged superficially Essay On Segmental English Phonology Whorf's actual ideas, or had attributed to him ideas he had never expressed.
The field of linguistic relativity studies remains an active focus of research in psycholinguistics and linguistic anthropologyand continues to generate debate and controversy between proponents of relativism and proponents of universalism. By comparison, Whorf's other work in linguistics, the development of such concepts as the allophone and the cryptotypeand the formulation of " Whorf's law " in Uto-Aztecan historical linguistics, have met with broad acceptance.
Benjamin see more two younger brothers, John and Richardwho both went on to become notable artists. John became an internationally renowned painter and illustrator; Richard was an actor in films such as Yankee Doodle Dandy and later an Emmy -nominated television director of such shows as The Beverly Hillbillies.
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Benjamin was the intellectual of the three and at a young age he conducted chemical experiments with his father's photographic equipment. He read William H. Prescott 's Conquest of Mexico several times. At the Essay On Segmental English Phonology of 17 he began to keep a copious diary in which he recorded his thoughts and dreams. Whorf graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in with a degree in chemical engineering where his academic performance was of average quality.
He was particularly good at the job and was highly commended by his employers. His job required him to travel to production facilities throughout New England to be inspected. One anecdote describes him arriving at a chemical plant in which he was denied access by the director because he would not allow anyone to see Essay On Segmental English Phonology production procedure which was a trade secret. Having been told what the plant produced, Whorf wrote a chemical formula on a piece of paper, saying to the director: The surprised director asked Whorf how he knew about the secret procedure, and he simply answered: Whorf helped to attract new customers to the More info Insurance Company; they favored his thorough inspections and recommendations.
Another famous anecdote from his job was used by Whorf to argue that language use affects habitual behavior. Whorf argued that by habitually speaking of the vapor-filled drums as empty and by extension as inert, the workers were oblivious to the risk posed by smoking near the "empty drums". Whorf was a spiritual man throughout his lifetime although what religion he followed has been the subject of debate. As a young man he produced a manuscript titled "Why I have discarded evolution ", causing some scholars to describe him as a devout Methodist Episcopalianwho was impressed with fundamentalismand perhaps supportive of creationism.
Around Whorf first became interested in linguistics. Originally he analyzed Biblical texts, seeking click to see more uncover hidden layers of meaning.
Whorf's early manuscripts on Hebrew and Maya have been described as exhibiting a considerable degree of mysticismas he sought to uncover esoteric meanings of glyphs and letters. This library had an extensive collection of materials about Native American linguistics and folkloreoriginally collected by James Hammond Trumbull.
Carrollwho later went on to study psychology under B. Skinnerand who in edited and published a selection Essay On Segmental English Phonology Whorf's essays as Language, Thought and Reality Carroll b. The collection rekindled Whorf's interest in Mesoamerican antiquity.
He began studying the Nahuatl language inand later, beginning inhe studied the collections of Maya hieroglyphic texts. Quickly becoming conversant with the materials, he began a scholarly dialog with Mesoamericanists such as Alfred Tozzerthe Maya archaeologist at Harvard Universityand Herbert J. Spinden of the Brooklyn Museum.
In he first presented a paper at the International Congress of Americanists in which he presented his translation of a Nahuatl document held at the Peabody Museum at Harvard.
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He click here began to study the comparative linguistics of the Uto-Aztecan language familywhich Edward Sapir had recently demonstrated to be a linguistic family. In addition to Nahuatl, Whorf studied the Piman and Tepecano languageswhile in close correspondence Essay On Segmental English Phonology linguist J.
Whorf considered using the money to travel to Mexico to procure Aztec manuscripts for the Watkinson library, but Tozzer suggested he spend the time in Mexico documenting modern Nahuatl dialects. Before leaving Whorf presented the paper "Stem series in Maya" at the Linguistic Society of America conference, in which he argued that in the Mayan languages syllables carry symbolic content.
Until his return from Mexico in Whorf had been entirely an autodidact in linguistic theory and field methodology, yet he had already made a name for himself in Middle American linguistics.
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Whorf had met Sapir, the leading US linguist of the day, at professional conferences, and in Sapir came to Yale from the University of Chicago to take a position as Professor of Anthropology. Alfred Tozzer sent Sapir a copy of Whorf's paper on "Nahuatl tones and saltillo". Sapir replied stating that it "should by all means be published";  however, it was not until that it was prepared for publication by Lyle Campbell and Frances Karttunen.
He enrolled in a program of graduate studies, nominally working towards a PhD in linguistics, but he never actually attempted to obtain a degree, satisfying himself with participating in the intellectual community around Sapir.
Trager and Charles F. Whorf took on a central role among Sapir's students and was well respected. Sapir had a profound influence on Whorf's thinking. Sapir's earliest writings had espoused views of the relation between thought and language stemming from the Humboldtian tradition he acquired through Franz Boaswhich regarded language as the historical embodiment of volksgeistor ethnic world view. But Sapir had since become influenced by a current of logical positivismsuch as that of Bertrand Russell and the early Ludwig Wittgensteinparticularly through Ogden and Richards' Essay On Segmental English Phonology Meaning of Meaningfrom which he adopted the view that natural language potentially obscures, rather than facilitates, the mind to perceive and describe the world as it really is.
In this view, proper perception could only be accomplished through formal logics. During his stay at Yale, Whorf acquired this current of thought partly from Sapir and partly through his own readings of Russell and Ogden and Richards. Chase admired Whorf's work and frequently sought out a reluctant Whorf, who considered Chase to be "utterly incompetent by training and background to handle such a subject. Sapir also encouraged Whorf to continue his work on the historical and descriptive Essay On Segmental English Phonology of Uto-Aztecan.
Whorf published several articles on that topic in this period, some of them with G. Trager, who had become his close friend. Whorf took a special interest in the Read article language and started working with Ernest Naquayouma, a speaker of Hopi from Toreva village living in ManhattanNew York.
Whorf credited Naquayouma as the source of most of his information on the Hopi language, although in he took a short field Essay On Segmental English Phonology click to see more the village of Mishongnovi, on the Second Mesa of the Hopi Reservation in Arizona. InYale awarded him the Sterling Fellowship. In with Trager's assistance he elaborated a report on the progress of linguistic research at the department of anthropology at Yale.
The report includes some of Whorf's influential contributions to linguistic theory, such as the concept of the allophone and of covert grammatical categories. Lee has argued, that in this report Whorf's linguistic theories exist in a condensed form, and that it was mainly through this report that Whorf exerted influence on the discipline of descriptive linguistics.
In lateWhorf's own health declined. After an operation for cancer he fell into an unproductive period. He was also deeply influenced by Sapir's death in early It was in the writings of his last two years that he laid out the research program of Linguistic relativity.
His memorial article for Sapir, "The Relation of Habitual Thought And Behavior to Language", [w 1] in particular has been taken to be Whorf's definitive statement of the issue, and is his most frequently quoted piece.
He was also invited to contribute an article to a theosophical journal, Theosophistpublished in MadrasIndiafor which he wrote "Language, Mind and Reality". He particularly criticized the Indo-European languages for promoting a mistaken essentialist world view, which had been disproved by advances in the sciences, whereas he suggested that other languages dedicated more attention to processes and dynamics rather than stable essences. At Whorf's death his friend G. Trager was appointed as curator of his unpublished manuscripts.
Some of them were published in the years after his death by another of Whorf's friends, Harry Hoijer. In the decade following, Trager and particularly Hoijer did much to popularize Whorf's ideas about linguistic relativity, and it was Hoijer who coined the term "Sapir-Whorf hypothesis" at a conference.
Hoijer also published studies of Indigenous languages and cultures of the American South West in which Whorf found correspondences between cultural patterns and linguistic ones. The term, even though technically a misnomer, went on to become the most widely known label for Whorf's ideas. Lucy "Whorf's work in linguistics was and still is recognized as being of superb professional quality by linguists".
Whorf's work began to fall out of favor less than a decade after his death, and he was subjected to severe criticism from scholars of language, culture and psychology. In and psychologists Roger Brown and Eric Essay On Segmental English Phonology criticized Whorf for his reliance on anecdotal evidence, formulating a hypothesis to scientifically test his ideas, which they limited to an examination of a causal relation between grammatical or lexical structure and cognition check this out perception.
Whorf himself did not advocate a straight causality between language and thought; instead he wrote that "Language and culture had grown up together"; that both were mutually shaped by the other. Focusing on color terminologywith easily discernible differences between perception and vocabulary, Brown and Lenneberg published in a study of Zuni color terms that slightly support a weak effect of semantic categorization of color terms on color perception.
Empirical testing of the Whorfian hypothesis declined in the s to s as Noam Chomsky began to Essay On Segmental English Phonology linguistics and much of psychology in formal universalist terms.
Several studies from that period refuted Whorf's hypothesis, demonstrating that linguistic diversity is a surface veneer that masks underlying universal cognitive principles. Because Whorf was treated so severely in the scholarship during those decades, he has been described as "one of the prime whipping boys of introductory texts to linguistics". By the s analytical philosophers also became aware of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, and philosophers such as Max Black and Donald Davidson  published scathing critiques of Whorf's strong relativist viewpoints.
Black characterized Whorf's ideas here metaphysics as demonstrating "amateurish crudity". In Essay On Segmental English Phonology view the critiques are based on a lack of familiarity with Whorf's writings; according to these recent Whorf scholars a more accurate description of his viewpoint is that he thought translation to learn more here possible, but only through careful attention to the subtle differences between conceptual schemes.
Eric LennebergNoam Chomsky and Steven Pinker   have also criticized Whorf for failing to be sufficiently clear in his formulation of how language influences thought, and for failing to provide real evidence to support his assumptions. Generally Whorf's arguments took the form of examples that were anecdotal or speculative, and functioned as attempts to show how "exotic" grammatical traits were connected to what were considered equally exotic worlds of thought.
According to LakoffWhorf's tendency to exoticize data must be judged in the historical context: Whorf and the other Boasians wrote at a time in which racism and jingoism were predominant, and when it was unthinkable to many that "savages" had redeeming qualities, or that their languages were comparable in complexity to those of Europe. For this alone Lakoff argues, Whorf can be considered to be "Not just a pioneer in linguistics, but a pioneer as a human being".