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Weisbergers Theory on Language and World Perception - Book Report/Review Example

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Weisbergers Theory on Language and World Perception

Weisberger was the one who proposed that "our understanding is under the spell of the language which it utilizes" (Steiner, 1992: 90) and was subsequently refined by Jost Trier, Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf.

The last two authors are very much known for their Benjamin-Whorf hypothesis but it is essentially an in-depth discussion of Weisgerber. The theory states that "the 'real world' is to a large extent unconsciously built up on the language habits of the group.... The worlds in which different societies live are distinct worlds, not merely the same world with different labels attached." In other words, each linguistic community has its own way of perceiving the world implying that language can bring about the existence of different worlds or culture.

The question that behooves us now is whether speaking a different language translates to a different perception and construction of world views. There is a consensus among linguists does indeed influence thought but the debate is to what degree is its influence. The works of Hayes and his colleagues provides evidence does heavily influence thought and forms culture perceptions. His work involved the Japanese with their use of the word 'water' and the Russians with their use of the word 'blue'. ...
'Blue' and 'water' are perceived differently for different cultures and goes to show that societies construct realities using language.
Different languages such as French, English, Chinese, German and so on have also been shown to have large influences in cultural perception. Culturally essential conditions, processes and objects are usually defined by a plethora of words, while things that cultures perceive as unimportant are usually assigned one or two words. In other words, language teaches its learners what is culturally important and what is not.
There are, however, cited evidences that language does not give rise to cultural differences. One example that is often cited is the Arapaho culture where there is a single word for any senor relative. Fathers, uncles and grandfathers may have different terms in English but the Arapaho Indians use just one term to describe them. Does this indicate that the Arapaho Indians have a different perception than the English speakers Do they consider the 'father' and 'uncle' as the same Cultural anthropologists have shown that they do understand the difference even if they have the same terms. The point is that they may categorize senior male relatives with a single word but they are aware of the differences in their expected duties. The Arapaho children have been shown to know who their father is and who their uncle is. (Romanine 1994, p. 67)
In English, the verb put is said to require three syntactic arguments: subject, object, locative an example of which is the statement "He put the book in the box". This statement has 3 semantic arguments which are the agent, theme, goal. The Japanese equivalent for put is 'oku' and has the same semantic arguments but differs in the syntactic arguments because the Japanese language ...Show more


Weisbergers Theory on Language and World Perception.
It is now common to hear that language and thought are closely intertwined. That is, humans are considered by linguists to construct their reality with the use of language…
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Weisbergers Theory on Language and World Perception essay example
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