One planet, different worlds: how language shapes reality

New research confirms that our native language to a large extent determines our mental habits, sometimes in unexpected ways.

70 years ago in the American scientific journal Technology Review published an article Benjamin Whorf "Science and Linguistics." Main idea — the great influence of the native language on the system of human thought — had a great influence on the study decades.

Whorf based his theory on the study of Native American languages. In particular, he thought that the speakers of these languages differently understand the concept of time and do not have a separation between objects (like "stone") and actions (like "fall").

Since that time, many of the allegations were refuted by Worf. As a result, attempts to study the influence of language on thought were suspicious for serious researchers. But, according to the American Ezhednevnik International Herald Tribune scientist Guy Doycher, recent studies suggest that in addition to their native language and we learn some of the schemes of thought.

Language dictates what not to forget

According Doychera, language difference does not mean that in a language is impossible to formulate ideas that are available in another language. The main influence of language on thought in the other — each language regularly makes us think about some things.

For example, in many European languages, including in Belarusian, inanimate objects have grammatical gender. This does not mean that the speakers of these languages feel like things really have biological sex. However, a survey of carriers of Spanish and German languages found people inclined to attach the object more "feminine" or "masculine" characteristics, depending on what the object of grammatical gender in their native language.

For the Spanish bridges, clocks and violins were more "masculine" than the Germans, as these words are masculine in Spanish and feminine in German. Conversely, the Spaniards were considered more "feminine" the mountains or chairs, which in their language is feminine, and in German — male.

linguistic orientation in space

According to scientists, the most interesting effect of language on thought related to orientation in space. In most languages of the world, there are the words "left", "right", "front", "back" — that is, person determines the direction relative to itself. Such a system seems natural to us, but in some languages Worldwide, from Polynesia to Mexico, from Namibia to Bali, the core is the geographic coordinate system.

Anthropologist and linguist John Gevilend Stephen Levinsan showed that in the language of Australian aborigines guugu yimidhir not use words like "right" or "left." Instead, they say that, for example, a large ant crawling "in the north of the feet." In order to use such a language, one must constantly navigate the geographic coordinate system.

One of the speakers of this language were videotaped as he told the story from the time of his youth — his hook caught in a storm, and he

To really better to agree, we should not pretend that we all think the same way.

another had to swim nearly three miles to shore. All of the story he was telling, referring to the geographical areas of events and their actions. Maybe he just randomly called these areas? But it turned out that a few years later the same man was telling the same story, and geographic areas is the same. What is even more significant, both times he accompanied his story with gestures and both times showed in the correct geographical direction, no matter where he was looking at two stories.

If a native speaker guugu yimidhir points to itself, it does not mean that he wants to draw attention to himself — he simply points in the direction behind him.

As long as we do not have enough opportunities to identify directly as language and cultural habits influence our thinking, writes Guy Doycher. But to really better to agree, we should not pretend that we all think the same way.

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