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ERIC Number: EJ819287
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Dec
Pages: 17
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 54
ISSN: ISSN-0023-8333
Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Whorf? Crosslinguistic Differences in Temporal Language and Thought
Casasanto, Daniel
Language Learning, v58 ns1 p63-79 Dec 2008
The idea that language shapes the way we think, often associated with Benjamin Whorf, has long been decried as not only wrong but also fundamentally wrong-headed. Yet, experimental evidence has reopened debate about the extent to which language influences nonlinguistic cognition, particularly in the domain of time. In this article, I will first analyze an influential argument against the Whorfian hypothesis and show that its anti-Whorfian conclusion is in part an artifact of conflating two distinct questions: "Do we think in language?" and "Does language shape thought?" Next, I will discuss crosslinguistic differences in spatial metaphors for time and describe experiments that demonstrate corresponding differences in nonlinguistic mental representations. Finally, I will sketch a simple learning mechanism by which some linguistic relativity effects appear to arise. Although people may not think in language, speakers of different languages develop distinctive conceptual repertoires as a consequence of ordinary and presumably universal neural and cognitive processes.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A