War of Words: Linguistic Relativity Versus Linguistic Universality Analytical Essay

War of Words: Linguistic Relativity Versus Linguistic Universality
This paper presents a debate between the two conflicting ideas of linguistic relativity versus linguistic universality and attempts to resolve the rift between the two ideas.
# 127963 | 1,220 words | 5 sources | APA | 2007 | US
Published on Jun 20, 2010 in Anthropology (Cultural) , Psychology (Theory) , Psychology (Case Studies) , Linguistics (General)

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In this article, the writer notes that it is easy to see how cognition affects language, but it is much harder to determine how language affects cognition. The writer discusses that in one viewpoint, known as linguistic relativity, the language that one speaks carves out conceptions and perceptions of the world differentially from a speaker of a different language. In an opposing viewpoint, known as linguistic universality, all languages follow a basic cognitive structure that every human has as part of their mental faculties. The two, while opposing, may not be mutually exclusive. After examining studies that address this issue, a resolution is put forth that linguistic relativity can be appealed to regarding specific aspects of cognition, such as for the conception of objects, time, and space, while linguistic universality can be appealed to regarding the overall nature of how our cognition operates, such as our cognitive development and for the way in which we categorize concepts taxonomically and thematically.

From the Paper:

"It seems unlikely that language influences our cognition in such a mechanistic, deterministic way that the strongest form of linguistic relativity claims. The second viewpoint is linguistic universality, which argues that despite great diversity in the countless languages of the world, differences in language do not reflect deeper differences in the cognition of speakers.
"As shown by the research literature, ample evidence exists that suggests, in the very least, a mild form of linguistic relativity, which can be observed in how speakers of different languages conceive of an object. In a study discussed in the target article, German speakers and Spanish speakers, both of whom employ languages that use gendered forms of nouns, were asked to describe certain words that were of one gender in German and of the opposite gender in Spanish. Despite the fact that the words were exactly the same and easily translatable, the participants described the words in either more feminine or more masculine terms depending on how the word was gendered in their native language."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Agnoli, Franca and Hunt, Earl. (1991). The Whorfian Hypothesis: A Cognitive Psychology Perspective. Psychological Review 98(3), 377-389.
  • Boroditsky, L. (2003). Linguistic realitivity. In L. Nadel (Ed.), Encyclopedia ofCognitive Science (pp. 917-921). London, UK: MacMillan Press.
  • Davidoff, Jules, Davies, Ian R. L., Roberson, Debi, and Shapira, Laura R. (2004). The Development of Color Categories in Two Languages: A Longitudinal Study. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 133(4), 554-571.
  • Imai, Mutsumi and Saalbach, Henrik. (2007). Scope of Linguistic Influence: Does a Classifier System Alter Object Concepts? Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 136(3), 485-501.
  • Semin, Gun R. and Stapel, Diederik A. (2007). The Magic Spell of Language: Linguistic Categories and Their Perceptual Consequences. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 93(1), 23-33.

Cite this Analytical Essay:

APA Format

War of Words: Linguistic Relativity Versus Linguistic Universality (2010, June 20) Retrieved December 03, 2021, from https://www.academon.com/analytical-essay/war-of-words-linguistic-relativity-versus-linguistic-universality-127963/

MLA Format

"War of Words: Linguistic Relativity Versus Linguistic Universality" 20 June 2010. Web. 03 December. 2021. <https://www.academon.com/analytical-essay/war-of-words-linguistic-relativity-versus-linguistic-universality-127963/>