Through the Language Glass

Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages

Recommended by Lane Greene, and 1 others. See all reviews

Ranked #4 in Linguistics, Ranked #7 in Languagesee more rankings.

Linguistics has long shied away from claiming any link between a language and the culture of its speakers. But now, acclaimed linguist Guy Deutscher has dared to reopen the issue. Can culture influence language —and vice versa? Can different languages lead their speakers to different thoughts? Could our experience of the world depend on whether our language has a word for "blue"?

Challenging the consensus that the fundaments of language are hard-wired in our genes and thus universal, Deutscher argues that the answer to all these questions is—yes. In thrilling fashion, he takes us...

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Lane Greene Yes – ish. Deustcher does a great job of first taking on those old notions. He goes back to the romantic 20th century ideas, in particular to a writer called Benjamin Lee Whorf. Whorf was an amateur linguist, he was largely self-taught but spent a lot of time doing research on this topic. Whorf famously claimed that the Hopi Indians of the American Southwest did not have a concept of time like westerners, because their language lacked those words. It turns out that he was wrong on both counts. His claims were based on interviews with one Hopi Indian in New York. Whorf was just off base and... (Source)

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