521-Class 7

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The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis[edit]

Readings: Whorf (1956) (2 readings)

Study Questions[edit]

  • According to Whorf (Languages and science), “we dissect nature along lines laid down by our native languages.” What does he mean by dissecting? Why does nature need to be dissected?
  • What are some differences between the Shawnee language and English, as cited by Whorf? What implication does Whorf draw from these differences?
  • Whorf writes (Language and science), “The Hopi actually call insect, airplane, and aviator all by the same word, and feel no difficulty about it.” In contrast to the Hopi language, what would it mean for English speakers to have separate words for insect, airplane and aviator?