Sapir-Whorf Fact

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Thakowsaizmu
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Sapir-Whorf Fact

Post by Thakowsaizmu » 07 Oct 2013 17:10

A site that I follow on facebook just posted this. It's a Youube video that pretty much flat out states that Sapir-Whorf isn't a hypothesis, it's a fact and then goes on to "prove" via the linguistic and anthropological disciplines of the late 19th and early 20th century. It's five minutes, but kind of worth the watch out of morbid curiosity to see what people still think is valid insofar as how language influences one's ability to see and navigate the world. Now, it's not that I think that language cannot have an impact on the way one thinks, it's just that everything in this video is wrong. It's either been disproven, or it is neglecting to address the myriad other reasons why the statistics gathered are erroneous, while blatantly skewing the statistics in their favour.

tl;dr: :mrred:

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Re: Sapir-Whorf Fact

Post by Trailsend » 08 Oct 2013 03:45

Chen's research sounds like an interesting read, but at least as presented, it shows nothing more than correlation—which is strikingly different than what the title of the paper entails: "The effect of language on economic behavior." To demonstrate that language is actually effecting this behavior, you'd have to somehow perform a controlled experiment to demonstrate causation. A lot of researchers in linguistic relativity, like Boroditsky, are careful to do this (and with some cool results), but something on the scale of what Chen is talking about would be absurdly difficult to prove.
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Re: Sapir-Whorf Fact

Post by abi » 08 Oct 2013 03:58

I couldn't get past the "futured" languages part.

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Re: Sapir-Whorf Fact

Post by Thakowsaizmu » 08 Oct 2013 05:30

Trailsend wrote:Chen's research sounds like an interesting read, but at least as presented, it shows nothing more than correlation—which is strikingly different than what the title of the paper entails: "The effect of language on economic behavior." To demonstrate that language is actually effecting this behavior, you'd have to somehow perform a controlled experiment to demonstrate causation. A lot of researchers in linguistic relativity, like Boroditsky, are careful to do this (and with some cool results), but something on the scale of what Chen is talking about would be absurdly difficult to prove.
Sapir-Whorf, at least as Chen is describing it, has been disproven time and time again. For example, the whole thing about colour. It's simply wrong. I showed my (non-linguist) Girlfriend the video and she called the whole colour thing out immediately. She is a Graphic Designer and understands colour theory, so she knew that that whole "some people can't see florange" was false. Everything he says is easily taken apart, and all of it is based on things that aren't what he is supposing.
abi wrote:I couldn't get past the "futured" languages part.
Yeah, that was a real gem, huh?

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Re: Sapir-Whorf Fact

Post by hadad » 08 Oct 2013 13:59

I don't have a colorword for my bedpost nor nightstand. I can use the same colorwords to describe both, and know of no others for them. Brown stained wood. Yet, I clearly see that they are different colors.

Also, with optical illusions, I know the differences between different colors in different illusions, yet it doesn't help me to see that the color is the same with different colors surrounding it.

Sapir-whorf is so rediculous, its easy to see why they must go for such lengths to convince people they're not just nutty.
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Re: Sapir-Whorf Fact

Post by Xing » 08 Oct 2013 15:52

Trailsend wrote:Chen's research sounds like an interesting read, but at least as presented, it shows nothing more than correlation—which is strikingly different than what the title of the paper entails: "The effect of language on economic behavior." To demonstrate that language is actually effecting this behavior, you'd have to somehow perform a controlled experiment to demonstrate causation. A lot of researchers in linguistic relativity, like Boroditsky, are careful to do this (and with some cool results), but something on the scale of what Chen is talking about would be absurdly difficult to prove.
[+1]

I was thinking, that the opposite correlation - that behaviour affects language - could be at least as plausible. That people who are more concerned about the future, tend to talk more about the future. And the more a certain tense is used, the more likely it is to be unmarked. That would - I think - be at least as compatible with the data as the Whorfian conclusion.

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Re: Sapir-Whorf Fact

Post by Trailsend » 08 Oct 2013 18:22

hadad wrote:I don't have a colorword for my bedpost nor nightstand. I can use the same colorwords to describe both, and know of no others for them. Brown stained wood. Yet, I clearly see that they are different colors.

Also, with optical illusions, I know the differences between different colors in different illusions, yet it doesn't help me to see that the color is the same with different colors surrounding it.

Sapir-whorf is so rediculous, its easy to see why they must go for such lengths to convince people they're not just nutty.
That's not really the right conclusion. As Thakow pointed out, SW as presented in the video is unsupported, but there has been plenty of interesting (and much more rigorous) research around the color question in particular.

For example (PDF)

A quote from the above:
The case of the Russian blues suggests that habitual or obligatory categorical distinctions made in one’s language result in language-specific categorical distortions in objective perceptual tasks. English speakers, of course, also can subdivide blue stimuli into light and dark. In fact, English speakers as a group drew nearly the same boundary as did the Russian speakers in our work. The critical difference in this case is not that English speakers cannot distinguish between light and dark blues, but rather that Russian speakers cannot avoid distinguishing them: they must do so to speak Russian in a conventional manner. This communicative requirement appears to cause Russian speakers to habitually make use of this distinction even when performing a perceptual task that does not require language. The fact that Russian speakers show a category advantage across this color boundary (both under normal viewing conditions without interference and despite spatial interference) suggests that language-specific categorical representations are normally brought online in perceptual decisions.

These results also help to clarify the mechanisms through which linguistic categories can influence perceptual performance. It appears that the influence of linguistic categories on color judgments is not limited to tasks that involve remembering colors across a delay. In our task, subjects showed language- consistent distortions in perceptual performance even though all colors were in plain view at the time of the perceptual decision. Further, language-consistent distortions in color judgments were not limited to ambiguous or subjective judgments where subjects may explicitly adopt a language-consistent strategy as a guess at what the experimenter wants them to do (19). In our task, subjects showed language-consistent distortions in perceptual performance while making objective judgments in an unambiguous perceptual discrimination task with a clear, correct answer.
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Re: Sapir-Whorf Fact

Post by thetha » 08 Oct 2013 20:53

I wonder, for native Russian speakers who learn English (or any of the other perfectly valid languages for this scenario), when they think of "blue" as in English <blue>, what shade is the default?

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Re: Sapir-Whorf Fact

Post by mbrsart » 10 Oct 2013 22:07

Oh man, I remember this. I think Yahoo had an article about this saying, "Speaking English causes you to save less." I immediately wrote a rebuttal to the person who posted it on Facebook.
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Re: Sapir-Whorf Fact

Post by kiwikami » 10 Oct 2013 23:19

Oh god.
This is actually kind of painful to watch.
I lost it at "futured."
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Re: Sapir-Whorf Fact

Post by Batailleur » 11 Oct 2013 02:20

Teddy wrote:I wonder, for native Russian speakers who learn English (or any of the other perfectly valid languages for this scenario), when they think of "blue" as in English <blue>, what shade is the default?
I've always thought of English "blue" as corresponding to Russian "синий" (dark blue).
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Re: Sapir-Whorf Fact

Post by Pirka » 15 Oct 2013 03:15

Batailleur wrote:
Teddy wrote:I wonder, for native Russian speakers who learn English (or any of the other perfectly valid languages for this scenario), when they think of "blue" as in English <blue>, what shade is the default?
I've always thought of English "blue" as corresponding to Russian "синий" (dark blue).
My L1 Russian mother says that she automatically considers "blue" as голубой, that is, a "light-blue".

I wonder whether it's a case of sound association because of the presence of similar - and [l]-like sounds in both the English and Russian words.

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Re: Sapir-Whorf Fact

Post by sangi39 » 02 Nov 2013 17:38

I completely forgot that Cracked.com got in on this sort of thing a few years ago in this article called "5 insane ways words can control your mind".

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Re: Sapir-Whorf Fact

Post by Party God » 02 Nov 2013 21:17

Image
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Re: Sapir-Whorf Fact

Post by mbrsart » 04 Nov 2013 20:24

Uh-oh. My Hebrew teacher is getting all Whorfian.

The example, taken from Exodus 19:5
כִּי לִי כָּל־הָאָרֶץ
kî l-î kŏl-hā-’ārĕṣ [kiː liː kɔl hɑːʔɑːʀɛt͡s ]
for to-1cs all-DEF-earth
lit, "for to-me all the earth"
"For all the Earth is mine."
My Professor wrote:Hebrew has no verb 'to have'. Everything is given. They are very unselfish.
This is nearly a direct quote from today's lecture on pronominal suffixes. Instead of burying my head in my hands Picard style, I just smiled and nodded.

P.S. That Cracked article was paaaaaaaaainful.
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Re: Sapir-Whorf Fact

Post by Ànradh » 05 Nov 2013 09:16

My Professor wrote:Hebrew has no verb 'to have'. Everything is given. They are very unselfish.
Hey, I guess the Gaels must be too!
Sin ar Pàrras agus nì sinne mar a thogras sinn. Choisinn sinn e agus ’s urrainn dhuinn ga loisgeadh.

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Re: Sapir-Whorf Fact

Post by Xonen » 05 Nov 2013 13:40

mbrsart wrote:Uh-oh. My Hebrew teacher is getting all Whorfian.

The example, taken from Exodus 19:5
כִּי לִי כָּל־הָאָרֶץ
kî l-î kŏl-hā-’ārĕṣ [kiː liː kɔl hɑːʔɑːʀɛt͡s ]
for to-1cs all-DEF-earth
lit, "for to-me all the earth"
"For all the Earth is mine."
My Professor wrote:Hebrew has no verb 'to have'. Everything is given. They are very unselfish.
Except that it wouldn't even logically follow from the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis that having a verb for having necessarily have anything to do with "selfishness". That's just, well, kinda dumb. :roll:

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Re: Sapir-Whorf Fact

Post by sangi39 » 14 Jan 2014 00:40

You can tell the same lie a thousand times,
But it never gets any more true,
So close your eyes once more and once more believe
That they all still believe in you.
Just one time.

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Re: Sapir-Whorf Fact

Post by Thakowsaizmu » 14 Jan 2014 04:30

Go home, Cracked, you're drunk.

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Re: Sapir-Whorf Fact

Post by Egerius » 14 Jan 2014 10:41

Thakowsaizmu wrote:Go home, Cracked, you're drunk.
I must agree. If there's a linguistics-related article and the word "Brücke" is spelled worse than wrong, there's no help. [>:O]
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