Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

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  • Topic: Culture, Linguistic relativity, Benjamin Lee Whorf
  • Pages : 8 (2753 words )
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  • Published : December 1, 2012
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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,...
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