1932

Abstract

The linguistic relativity hypothesis, the proposal that the particular language we speak influences the way we think about reality, forms one part of the broader question of how language influences thought. Despite long-standing historical interest in the hypothesis, there is relatively little empirical research directly addressing it. Existing empirical approaches are classified into three types. 1. Structure-centered approaches begin with language differences and ask about their implications for thought. 2. Domain-centered approaches begin with experienced reality and ask how different languages encode it. 3. Behavior-centered approaches begin with some practical concern and seek an explanation in language. These approaches are compared, and recent methodological improvements highlighted. Despite empirical advances, a theoretical account needs to articulate exactly how languages interpret experiences and how those interpretations influence thought. This will entail integrating theory and data concerning both the general relation of language and thought and the shaping influence of specific discursive structures and practices.

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/content/journals/10.1146/annurev.anthro.26.1.291
1997-10-01
2024-05-25
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/content/journals/10.1146/annurev.anthro.26.1.291
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  • Article Type: Review Article
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