What Did Aldous Huxley Mean When He Observed That “Words Form the Thread on Which We String Our Experiences”?

Topics: Linguistic relativity, Linguistics, Nineteen Eighty-Four Pages: 2 (625 words) Published: May 2, 2012
Aldous Huxley was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of his family, the well-known Huxley family. He is best and most commonly known for his novel, Brave New World. He was a humanist, pacifist, and satirist, was interested in subjects of spirituality like parapsychology, which incorporates paranormal phenomena’s such as telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, psycho kinesis, near-death experiences, and reincarnation. He was also an advocator for psychedelics, a psychoactive drug whose primary action is to alter cognition and perception.

George Orwell’s idea of Sapir-Whorf is the linguistic theory that semantic structure of languages shapes or limits the ways in which a speaker forms conceptions of the world. This theory was named after the American anthropological linguist Edward Sapir, and Benjamin Whorf who was his student. In the 20th century, the theory that the language people speak controls how they think, was popular among behaviorists. Sapir Whorf tells the idea that human beings do not live in the objective world alone, nor alone in the world of social activity as ordinarily understood, but are at the “mercy” of the language of their culture. In George Orwell’s book Nineteen Eighty-four, he addresses the idea of “newspeak”, which is where words are taken out of the character’s vocabulary. This can be seen to influence their thoughts by decreasing the number of associations to connect the word with.

Language influences thoughts about the real world. We see and hear and otherwise experience very largely as we do because of the language habits of our community predispose certain choices of interpretation. The hypothesis can be seen to show that language influences how people categorize their experiences. For example, the Inuit people have many words for “snow”, which causes them to perceive snow differently than those who know only one word. By having more words to define “snow”, it is perceived as a more crucial part of their...
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